December 14, 2023 | Alex Paradies

5 Challenges to Implementing An RCA Program


If you read my article, “5 Stages of Killing Bad Ideas,” then you would know that there are 5 emotions you have to deal with when it comes to change: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. The 5 stages turn into 5 challenges to implementing an RCA program.

The 5 challenges to implementing a RCA Program are:

  1. What we have is good enough!
  2. My boss said I am supposed to learn this.
  3. We don’t need anything fancy for “simple” incidents.
  4. This takes too long!
  5. How are we going to train everyone on this?

Challenge 1 – Denial

The first challenge to implementing a root cause analysis program that must be overcome is to recognize the need for improvement. The first step in the improvement program checklist is that the need to improve is clearly defined. See what the TapRooT® Book 2: RCA Implementation has to say about recognizing the need for change.

What are you trying to improve? Why does it need to be improved? If:

  • the answers to these questions aren’t clear,
  • you don’t have accurate numerical data to measure performance, and
  • you don’t have a clear approved goal

YOU HAVE NOT CLEARLY DEFINED the need to improve.

But, Alex, you might say “My boss says we use 5-Whys for RCA and that is good enough.”

Your job is to show them what advanced root cause analysis can do. It is management’s job to recognize the right answer. Advanced root cause analysis provides the best practices and knowledge that change performance and eliminate errors and equipment failures. You won’t see these kinds of results in a 5-Why investigation.

So the easiest way to overcome this objection is to just start doing TapRooT® Investigations.

Challenge 2 – Anger

Most students attending our courses are excited to learn something that will improve their jobs and make investigations easier. However, we get the occasional student who can only be described as grumpy. When we ask students why they are here and what they want to learn, they reply, “My boss told me to be here.”

So the second challenge you will encounter is overcoming people who are upset at change. Now, this is a tricky step because you need to listen to their concerns but not indulge their negativity. Allow them to be heard but set firm boundaries.

Often they will list a bunch of reasons why you can’t do something. Don’t dismiss their concerns. Instead, turn each of their “can’ts” into “how could.” They might say, “You can’t do this because we don’t have the time to do it.” You can turn that into a “how could” by saying. “You’re right. Scheduling might be tricky, how can we move items around to leave enough time for this?” By turning their energy away from finding problems and toward solving them you’ll gain an ally.

Challenge 3 – Bargaining

Whenever you implement a more robust root cause process you will inevitably come across people who are unsure if they want to take the time to do a detailed investigation. The challenge you will face is people wanting to just use TapRooT® RCA for the “serious” incidents. The bargainers want fast answers and think plain old 5-whys will work for incidents that didn’t lead to a major accident. I have heard someone even say, “Who cares if we fix all the problems as long as we fix some of them…”.

If something is worth fixing, it is worth fixing it right!

Instead of bargaining over when to do good investigations or bad ones, start the conversation by defining when an incident is worth investigating. People often feel they will be overwhelmed with a new Root Cause Analysis process. The key is recognizing when there is something more to learn. Potentially a lot of time is wasted on investigating things that don’t matter and implementing corrective actions that are not going to make a difference to your organization. Spend your investigation resources on the highest potential incidents and precursors and always use the best root cause analysis process available, TapRooT® RCA.

Challenge 4 – Depression

People get depressed learning new skills and that can often show itself as frustration. You will hear some people say, “This process takes too long.” When I hear people say they want fast I always think of the TapRooT® Spin-A-Cause™. Just because something is fast does not make it good.

TapRooT® Spin-A-Cause™

That’s why the slight amount of additional effort to collect all the relevant information and analyze it using TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis is worth the effort, and SAVES TIME by fixing problems once and for all. TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis doesn’t take longer than a good investigation, but it does take longer than a lousy investigation where people just jump to conclusions based on their biases.

Challenge 5 – Acceptance

The last challenge you must face is figuring out how to get all of your people trained. Luckily, you don’t have to face that challenge alone. Understand who needs training and what the best ways are to tackle the challenges your company is facing. Our team of advisors can help you through each step in the process.

TapRooT® Implementation Advisors

Our team will help you build a custom roadmap for implementing the TapRooT® Root Causes Analysis System into your company. This will allow you to see what options are available for training and if you should attend one of our public courses or host an onsite course.

Root Cause Analysis
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