October 22, 2012 | Barb Carr

Root Cause Tip: It’s Tough To Sell Continuous Improvement in a “Special Cause” World

TapRooT® trainer, Kevin McManus, writes a monthly column for IE magazine, and the following is his August 2012 column:

Our Special Cause World
by Kevin McManus

We live in a special cause world.

I thought hard about writing such a general opening statement, but after giving it more thought than it deserved, I felt justified.  The special cause events we focus on in media and at work distract our attention and consume valuable resources, even though such events occur only 1 percent of the time or less.  Even worse, these rare events often shape our perceptions and judgments about expected system performance.  In short, if it is not leaning toward the extreme, it is not worth attention.

Human beings are conditioned to respond to events as opposed to systems.  Peter Senge showed that we react quickly to a loud handclap but essentially ignore the blood continually coursing through our veins.  Over time, I have become more aware how we focus on, if not celebrate, special cause events, instead of seeing them for the process outliers they are.

(Click here to read the rest of this article in .pdf format.)

Copyright©2012. Reprinted with permission of the Institute of Industrial Engineers from Industrial Engineer, August 2012. All rights reserved.

Root Cause Analysis
Show Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *