April 2, 2014 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Targeting Investigations

A client complained, “I just can’t get everything investigated using TapRooT®.” I asked, “What are you investigating?”

The answer?


They were investigating lost-time injuries, medical treatment cases, reportables, near-misses, equipment failures, quality issues, issues management was interested in, the list went on and on …

Don’t get me wrong, I think you can learn valuable information from investigations of small problems. But you have to have a limit. They needed to target their investigations on their highest priority improvements. They need to answer the question: “What are the most important things to improve?”

For example, if your objective is to prevent fatalities, you certainly would investigate fatalities. But you would also investigate incidents with the potential for fatalities. They could be medical treatment cases, near misses, equipment failures, or even serious rule violations. But you would NOT investigate problems that could not produce a fatality … even if it might be a lost-day or medical treatment case. That’s focus!

When resources are scarce, you must focus on your most important improvement opportunities. Once fatalities have been eliminated, you can target your efforts on the next issue.

This focus helps you manage your improvement initiative to fit your resources. What if you don’t have enough resources for your most important improvement initiative? Then you have justification to ask for additional resources for the high-priority objective.

Don’t be overwhelmed. There are only 24 hours in a day. Target your investigations.

Root Cause Analysis
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