Blog Archives

Root Cause vs. Containment

A typical response to problem solving is to contain the issue and consider getting to the root cause.  From my experience, this is because people don’t know the difference between root cause and containment.

It can be easier to see in a tangible manufacturing environment.

Problem: A group of products have a broken screw that will cause the product to fail

Containment: Sort all product to find the ones with the broken screws and replace the screws.

Root Cause: Find why the screws were broken in the first place.  Were the screws torqued too much?  Weak screws?

Most people understand the difference when an example like the one above occurs.  But in a business environment, people seem to miss this difference.

Problem: The numbers on paper say the budget is $10 million, but the manager says the budget is $6 million.

Containment: Get an answer to which budget is correct.  $6 million or $10 million?

Root Cause: What caused there to be a discrepancy between the numbers on paper and what is being said?

I see a lot of answers around poor communication or people getting the containment answer and believing they got to the root cause.  We should be finding a root cause to why there was a discrepancy so there isn’t another one in the future that causes delay in the process.

Just because you are able to move the process forward, does not mean you got the root cause.  Take the time and find the root cause.  It may take more time now, but it will save a lot of time in the future.

Advertisements

Root Cause and Guns

Normally, I don’t dive into the hot politically charged topic of the week, but the gun issue has really struck a cord with me.  I don’t care which side of the issue a person falls on, right to own a gun or very strict laws almost preventing gun ownership.  Everyone has a right to their own opinion.

The issue I have is with people, more accurately politicians, using tragedies to further their own agenda without understanding the true root cause.

Sandy Hook was an enormous tragedy.  I went home that night and hugged my kids and didn’t let them go the entire weekend.  What happened shook me at my core.

What has happened since then has been upsetting also.  Laws are proposed and passed on gun control that do not address the root cause of why these type of mass shootings are happening.  Guns are being obtained legally and with background checks.  A lot of these people are not any system as having “issues” or being arrested or whatever the case may be, so they will pass a background check.

Stricter background checks can just cause people to get guns illegally.  It is just like making alcohol illegal in the U.S.  Prohibition in the 1920s didn’t stop alcohol from being made or consumed.  It just made it illegal.  People went into business with distilleries and crime went up because of it.  Not just the  making and consuming of alcohol but people robbed and killed over it to build empires because no one would call the cops if a criminal stole from a criminal.

If a person wants a gun bad enough, they will get it.

The question is, “What is causing people to want to do these acts?”  How do we prevent people from wanting to do something like this?  Do we need to work harder on stopping bullying?  Do we need to help to make people better aware of how a stable family can help?

I don’t know what the answer is, but I do believe that what has been going on for years with just looking at controlling guns is not the answer.  It hasn’t’ worked since the Columbine shootings and I don’t see it working moving forward.

What are your thoughts on helping to prevent the root cause of gun violence?

Drilling Deep With The 5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a common talked about problem solving method that is taught.   The quick explanation is to keep asking why until you get to the root cause.  It seems simple and straight forward, right?

Then when it is tried people start to see it isn’t as easy as it may seem.  The hardest part people have is knowing when to stop asking why.  Five id just a suggestion to drive home the point to dig deep.

A rule of thumb I like to use, is to keep asking why until the conversation gets uncomfortable.  This isn’t easy because the other person may get upset with not knowing the answer and start to get upset with you or you may have to start asking tough questions that cross into uncharted waters.

Why do I do this?  Because that is the point where the real learning starts to take place for the person asking the questions AND the person trying to answer the questions.

If the person knows the answer right off the top of their head, that seems to superficial and could have or should have been fixed already.  That doesn’t seem like a root cause (although it could be).  Digging to a point where the conversation gets uncomfortable surfaces deep rooted issues that can drive bigger and/or better change.

Learning is the key to problem solving so don’t stop asking why until you have gotten deep enough to cause some level of uncomfortableness.  That is where you will find the root cause.