April 5, 2023 | Mark Paradies

SMARTER: Reviewed for Unintended Consequences

Are Your Corrective Actions SMARTER?

Could a corrective action cause an unintended consequence – a bigger problem than the one it solves? In the 5-Day TaprooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course, we teach people to use a technique called SMARTER. SMARTER stands for:








The Final R of SMARTER – Examples

This tip focuses on the Reviewed part of SMARTER. We want corrective actions to be reviewed for unintended consequences.

Here’s the story.

Up in the state of New York, they had a good idea. People sometimes fell asleep and ran off the road. If they cut groves in the pavement outside the white line on the road, the “rumble” could wake up the snoozing driver.

So, they started cutting grooves all over. This included a section of road frequented by cyclists.


One day while riding his bike home at night (low visibility), Richard Wilt, a New York police sergeant, came across a new set of rumble strips. He was riding outside the white line to avoid the hazard of automobiles when he hit the rumble strips while coasting (not very fast) down a hill.

The groove – hidden in the dark – “grabbed” his tire. He flew over the handlebars and landed face-first on the road.

Others have been injured in similar accidents when bikes hit rumble strips.

This brings me to a personal experience.

My daughter was riding a bike down a hill and didn’t notice the speed bump intended to cause cars to slow down. When she hit it, it threw her off her bike. She had a helmet on and received minor cuts and bruises. But it could have been worse.

SMARTER & Unintended Consequences

So what does this have to do with root cause analysis?

Your corrective actions may have unintended consequences.

Nobody at the New York Department of Transportation thought about the dangers of rumble strips to bicycles. And nobody thought about the dangers of speed bumps to bicycles going down a hill.

How can you guard against unintended consequences in your corrective actions?

Get them to be REVIEWED by operators, mechanics, and others to help spot unintended consequences.

You might not spot every unintended consequence, but you will catch many problems before implementation (and the resulting negative consequences).

Learn More About Advanced Root Cause Analysis

Would you like to learn more about SMARTER and advanced root cause analysis? See the worldwide schedule for our public 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Courses AT THIS LINK.

Or schedule a course at your site by CLICKING HERE or calling us at 865-539-2139.

(Note: This article was first published in 2009. We republished it here because the lessons are just as applicable today as they were then.)

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