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When have you experienced personnel testing multiple causes simultaneously? It is highly tempting to dive right into evaluating causes at the beginning of an investigation, but this becomes counterproductive when teams do this without having a thorough description of what their problem is.Moreover, investigating a myriad of causes concurrently can introduce many changes into the process, possibly creating new symptoms that could cloud the initial event that occurred.In some cases, folks are either unclear about the problem they are solving or might disagree as they have conflicting perceptions of this problem.
However, sensibly there will only be one true cause that comes out of the analysis.
To minimize wasting time testing false causes and to prevent making the problem potentially worse, KT Problem Analysis would have teams take each individual “bone” and test the theory against the problem data, asking “IF this is the cause, then how does it explain the facts”?
However, what percentage of your root cause meetings typically begin with a fishbone (Ishikawa) diagram, or a debate of what folks believe to be the cause?
How quickly do folks want to leave the meeting to go test what they think is the cause?
The value added from combining a fishbone with KT Problem Analysis is how quickly we can eliminate many of the irrelevant bones of the diagram that reasonably can’t explain the problem.
Completing a fishbone might result in a dozen bones or more branching out from the diagram, with each representing a different possible cause.
To ensure that folks are addressing the right problem, and to help validate that a Problem Analysis is even a necessary next step, employing the 5 WHY technique can be a productive exercise.
In some cases, teams might have to question “why” more than just 5 times; in other cases, the number of “whys” it takes to drill down may be less than 5 iterations.
The output of thoroughly completing Step 1 in Problem Analysis is a factual description of the problem.
The next step is to use this problem description, which in KT is known as a “specification”, to identify and subsequently to test possible causes.