June 18, 2014 | Mark Paradies

Tide and Time Wait for No Man

Tide and Time Wait for No Man
(reprinted from the May 2014 Root Cause Network™ Newsletter by permission)


Some TapRooT® Users lament: 

“I don’t get enough practice using TapRooT® to be good at finding root causes.”

Why do they say that? Because they only use TapRooT® to investigate major accidents. For most TapRooT® users, major accidents a re few and far between.

Not having major accidents is a good thing, so this complaint isn’t all bad. But why aren’t they getting practice using TapRooT® proactively to find root causes and improve performance? I think the answer to this question has to do with the effective use of TIME. 


There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always enough time to do it over. – Jack Bergman

The first thing that I notice is that most people are reactive. They aren’t planning ahead. Rather, they respond as things go wrong. As W. Edwards Deming said: 

Stamping out fires is fun, but it only puts things back the way they were. 


To become excellent is to look ahead and avoid firefighting and being reactive.  

But many complain that they just don’t have the time to be proactive and get ahead of the problems they face. They should remember: 

 The great dividing line between success and failure
can be expressed in five words: “I did not have time.” – Franklin Field

Lack of time is always an excuse. Here are two quotes to remember when someone complains about having too little time: 

If you have time to whine and complain about something
then you have the time to do something about it.
– Anthony J. D’Angelo

 and …

One always has enough time if one will apply it well. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


The first step in creating time for proactive analysis is to avoid wasting time on ineffective reactive efforts. 

Start by being good when reactive improvement is called for. Get the training you need to apply TapRooT® effectively (we suggest the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course) and continue to learn by attending the TapRooT® Summit.

Next, make sure that your reactive investigations are as efficient as possible. Read Chapter 3 of the 2008 version of the TapRooT® Book to make sure that you are applying all the ways it recommends to save time during investigations. Also, review Appendix C, A Guide to Improving the Use of TapRooT®, in the TapRooT® Book to find even more ways to save time and effort.


Next, make sure that you aren’t wasting time investigating problems that aren’t important. Focus your reactive root cause analysis efforts on incidents that are truly significant or that could have caused a significant accident.

Finally, if you are a manager, be well trained in root cause analysis so that you ask good questions and know what to look for when you are reviewing investigators’ recommendations. That will keep you from wasting your investigators’ time.  


Start small and start now using TapRooT® proactively to find and fix the root causes of problems before they happen.  

Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. – Napoleon Hill


Learn how to use TapRooT® proactively by reading Chapter 4 of the TapRooT® Book. Also, read this LINK  to get ideas about using TapRooT® root cause analysis proactively in after action reviews. What if you still can’t see how to find the time for proactive improvement? 

In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do;
it is not really the time but the will that is lacking
. – Sir John Lubbock


To develop more “will” to be proactive, picture success. Picture… 

  • Never having to investigate a major accident – EVER. 
  • No fatalities. 
  • Crisis management eliminated. 
  • Reliable equipment that doesn’t fail when you need it the most. 
  • No major cost overruns and no major schedule slippages.
  • Happy clients that aren’t complaining about quality issues.

The only way to achieve this goal is by systematically, proactively improving using root cause analysis. Reactive root cause analysis will never get you to this picture of success. 

Success is simple. Do what’s right,  the right way, at the right time. – Arnold H. Glasgow

If you still need help after you’ve attended TapRooT® Training, read the TapRooT® Book, and tried becoming proactive, give us a call (865-539-2139) or drop us a note (click here) and ask us for more ideas to address your specific problems. We’ll be glad to help you apply TapRooT® root cause analysis proactively to achieve performance excellence.

Finally, remember… 

Time is not measured by the passing of years, 
but by what one does,
what one feels, and
what one achieves.
– Jawaharlal Nehru



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