April 15, 2015 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Fixing Generic Causes

One of the final steps in performing a TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis is finding Generic Causes.

What is a Generic Cause? It is the reason that a root cause is widespread.

For example, a root cause for an error made while using a procedure might be that the procedure has more than one action per step.


4. Remove the drum lid and the polyethylene liner lid, place liner in prepared drum and place in loading position at the final packaging hut. Insert plastic bag in drum liner. Seal the plastic bag with tape to the inside of the drum loading insert. 

The fix for this specific root cause might look something like this:

4.  Remove the drum lid and the polyethylene liner lid.     .     .     .     .     . ___

5.  Place liner in prepared drum.    .     .     .     .     .    .    .    .    .    .    .    . ___

6.  Place prepared drum in loading position at the final packaging hut.    . ___

7.  Insert plastic bag in drum liner.    .     .     .     .     .    .    .    .    .    .    .   ___

8.  Seal the plastic bag with tape to the inside of the drum loading insert.  ___

 If the team then went to check other procedures and found that this problem was widespread, they would then have a generic problem. The question then becomes: “Why is the problem of ‘more than one action per step’ so widespread? What is the Generic Cause that allows us to produce poor procedures?

The root cause analysis team may find that the people writing procedures have no guidance for writing procedures and no training on how to write procedures.

This should cause the team to look for other generic procedure problems.They might also find that procedure formats are confusing, the level of detail is inconsistent, there are excessive references, and the graphics need improvement.

The Corrective Action Helper® Guide provides guidance to fix these kinds of Generic Causes. But the widespread generic procedure problems probably indicate that the company or site doesn’t really know how to produce good procedures. Therefore, the Corrective Action Helper® Book recommendation to fix specific Generic Causes might not be enough guidance.

For example, the Corrective Action Helper® Guide says that for generic “greater than one action per step” problems, the investigators should consider:

“…a general procedure improvement program to remove multiple actions per step from the rest of the facilities procedures.”

However, if the procedures are in really bad shape, more must be done.

Of course, the Corrective Action Helper® Guide provides even more information – references. And if the investigators read the suggested reference, they may look for the additional problems and develop a plan to improve their procedures that is more comprehensive.

That would be great. But how many read the references? My guess is … not that many. After all, in today’s downsized, super-efficient workplace, people just don’t have time.

That’s why System Improvements is here to provide assistance.

If you run into generic problems that you think may be important to fix, we can help.

At a minimum, we can coach your team on the development of generic corrective actions.

Beyond that, we can put an evaluation team together to evaluate the scope of the Generic Cause and develop a plan to improve performance by eliminating the Generic Cause and upgrading current systems.

Finally, if you really need help, we can put together a team to help implement the fix. In this cause, a team of experienced procedure writers to help your company fix their current procedures and coach your procedure writers how to write better procedures in the future.

We can even make rerun visits to audit the status of the corrective actions and the work of your procedure writers.

So when you find a Generic Cause that you know your company isn’t good at fixing (or doesn’t have the time to explore and fix), remember that System Improvements can help.

Don’t let problems repeat because Generic Causes are left un-fixed. Get help. Call us at 865-539-2139 or CLICK HERE to send us a message. We can help you improve!

Root Cause Analysis
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