June 11, 2019 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Help

When should you ask for root cause analysis help?

• • •

That’s a great question.

There are lots of comedians that make fun of men for not asking for help when they are lost.

What did Steve Jobs have to say about asking for help? Here’s a video…


So when should you ask for help in performing a root cause analysis? Here are some ideas…

The Blame Trap

Some companies have a blame-oriented environment. And if a major accident happens, someone is going to get blamed.

What does that have to do with the person leading the investigation needing help?

What happens when your investigation results in the firing of someone high up in the organization? You might not have thought about this, but you could become a “marked man” (or woman).

What do I mean by this? Because you lead the investigation, other senior executives may see you as the person who got good ole Joe fired. Some will hold a grudge. Some will just avoid you. But it certainly won’t help your career.

What can you do? Get an outsider to “lead” the investigation. The outsider doesn’t have to worry about grudges or backstabbing. They will do the investigation and disappear. They may be able to defuse the blame situation and avoid needless firings.

So ask for help when you see the chance for a blame-oriented environment developing.

The Knowledge Gap /  Technical Help

Admit it. You don’t know everything.

Some investigations get technical. They require experts to answer questions.

Decades ago, major corporations had these experts on staff waiting to help with problems/investigations. But with all the downsizing that has occurred, there are big gaps in the on-staff expert assistance availability.

Thus, if you find you have a human factors or equipment reliability problem that is outside your area of expertise and beyond the help provided in the TapRooT® System, you have reached the point where it is time to get help.

The Referee Trap

Ever seen an investigation that becomes an internal squabble. The Union vs Management. The Engineering Department vs Operations. Operations vs Maintenance. The Doctor vs the nursing staff. The list could go on and on.

The investigator’s job starts to feel like being a referee. And you know that the referee always gets blamed by the losing team.

If you want to avoid becoming a referee, get help. At least a professional outside expert will be seen as an impartial referee.

This can be especially helpful when the is a dispute with a customer. Your internal root cause analysis won’t be seen by the customer as “independent.” An outsider can be helpful in avoiding blame and pointing out Causal Factors that were in your companies control and Causal Factors that were the responsibility of the customer.

The Fresh Set of Eyes / Outsiders View

You have heard the saying:

Can’t see the forest for the trees.

Sometimes investigators become so accustomed to the company’s business practices, risks, shortcuts, culture, …, that they just can’t see the problems because they are too close to the organization.

What do they need? A fresh set of eyes. Sometimes people talk about someone who will ask innocent questions, like:

Why do you do it that way?

This can sometimes help you see problems, discover Causal Factors, or Safeguards that you couldn’t see without help. The outsider may have experience from other industries or other countries that supplements your knowledge.

So if you have repeat incidents or your investigation seems stuck … you need a fresh set of eyes to help.

Expert from Afar

The further you travel the more of an expert you are.

You may know the solutions needed to prevent further accidents, but management isn’t going to invest the funds needed when the idea comes from someone local.

What do you need? An expert from afar. Someone with the “expert” halo that will tell management what needs to happen and they will listen because they are the expert from afar that is getting the big bucks to solve the problem.

You might think of this as a waste. But a bigger waste is to continue to have the problem repeat because effective corrective actions weren’t implemented.

We Can Help

Those are samples of the tricky situations that benefit from having an outsider help with a root cause analysis.

The good news is … We CAN HELP.

We have experts – outsiders – that can bring a wealth of TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis experience to your investigation. Don’t be afraid to ask. Call us at 865-548-8990 when you need help.

Benna and Ken Talk About Getting Root Cause Analysis Help

Root Cause Analysis, Root Cause Analysis Tips
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