Rooting out the Problem
fixing problems, many people typically fix only the symptoms, rather
than the actual problem. The outcome is that the problem reoccurs, each
time usurping valuable organizational resources.
To fix the problem, you need to identify and eliminate the root cause.
Think about this:
Do painkillers fix your broken leg? No, they don't. Painkillers decrease
the pain of your broken leg, but only surgery will fix your broken leg.
The pain is only a symptom of the problem (i.e., your broken leg).
When faced with a problem, get to its root by answering these three questions:
- What happened?
- Why did it happen?
- How can we prevent it from happening again?
It's usually easy
to answer the first question, but to explain the cause of the problem
requires an investigation of all contributing factors. This includes
methods, materials, machines, measurements, man (people), and Mother
Nature (environment) (collectively referred to as the "6M's").
include things such as organizational policies, standards and processes.
For example, the problem might be caused by organizational policy
stating that records must not be retained.
include tangible things such as records, forms, or other materials. For
example, the problem might be caused by out-of-date forms.
include printers, computers, manufacturing equipment, and related. For
example, the problem might be caused by printers being down for repairs,
computer crashes, etc.
include something that can be measured. For example, the problem might
be caused by inaccurate billings, numbers on invoices and purchase
orders don't match, etc.
(or people) includes anything that can be attributed to the
organization's HR. For example, the problem might be caused by people
having too much work, too little work, there may be insufficient
staffing, customers may be complaining about the service, etc.
Nature (environment) includes external causes that are out of your
control. For example, the problem might be caused by the snow storm
preventing your order from arriving on time.
When you know all
contributing factors, you are then in a position to trace the problem to
its root cause (or causes) - the real reason the problem occurred in
the first place.
By "rooting out" the problem, the organization is able to again return to an efficient state.