Root cause analysis – the cause of the problems

Many times in projects we see situations where failures occur in equipment/machines, in processes and also in interactions between people (communication, decision making, etc).

The responsibility for “correcting” these problems generally lies at the intermediate levels in organizations.

When proposing “corrective” actions, the disbelief and distrust of the higher levels of the organization quickly appears.

Why does this happen?

In my experience, what is common to all these misunderstandings is the absence of a good understanding of the root cause. Managers do not distrust the person, but they distrust the proposed solution when they do not understand what caused the problem in the first place.

A typical example: An equipment (electric motor) for an industrial process fails before its maintenance period and useful life. In order to ensure operational continuity, the maintenance team decides to increase the frequency of equipment replacement and/or purchase a “more robust equipment”, thus solving the problem.

The company has increased its sales/production, so “increased sales” justifies the change to a maintenance policy for this equipment that is much more expensive than the original.

The manager in charge accepts the proposal with frustration – operational continuity must be recovered – but in the process his confidence in the maintenance team did not increase and part of the competitiveness/production efficiency that existed before the failure was lost (with the proposed solution, today it costs more expensive to produce a ton of that product…).

How can organizations improve these situations?

Managers and bosses can teach how to do a root cause analysis or seek help from people who can train the organization to do it. They can lead by example by accompanying in developing these analyses and motivating their teams to seek complementary sources of information, contact suppliers or other companies that have faced similar problems to understand the real causes. Once agreed and validated, the root cause will surely be the clearest solution for everyone.

At this point it is very important for the organization to understand how to do and present a cost/benefit analysis to justify the proposed solution. Managers with a background in economics and business can also share simple approaches to help their teams improve their presentation of solutions.

Finally, it is important to remember and recognize that incentives and incentives shape behaviors and ways of working. A manager who does not know what to expect or ask of his teams becomes frustrated and generates frustration in his teams, since the expected objectives (in this case, the organization’s “expectations” of his area) are not achieved.

These are all challenges of management, knowledge and ways of working. It is important to remember that every day you can teach your teams something new, and every day you can learn something new.

Best of success in your daily challenges and in improving trust and satisfaction among your teams and with your managers.

Publicación preparada por Cristian Yanquez, Socio

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