Root Cause Analysis Tools in Lean Six Sigma

Root causes are principal underlying causes that result in a particular problem or issue. In their earnest quest to solve problems, many organizations resort to identify symptoms and immediately propose solutions to alleviate those symptoms.

16 November 2021

Root Cause Analysis Tools

What is Root Cause Analysis?

Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a systematic way of identifying the root cause of an issue as part of the problem-solving methodology. Root causes are principal underlying causes that result in a particular problem or issue. In their earnest quest to solve problems, many organizations resort to identify symptoms and immediately propose solutions to alleviate those symptoms. However, sometimes the problems will reoccur because the issues are not tackled at the root cause level.

Problems can happen everywhere, anywhere at any time. It is something that you cannot avoid in your everyday life. As a leader, you must have a top-notch problem-solving skill for you to lead your team well. Hence, with Root Cause Analysis tools, it helps you identify and eliminate the cause of the problem to avoid it to happen in the future. There are a few types of Root Cause Analysis tools that you can use to solve the problems effectively

Fishbone diagram

Fishbone diagram is a cause-and-effect diagram or also called as Ishikawa Diagram. It was created by Kaoru Ishikawa. It is used to identify, organize and display the potential causes of sa specific effect or event in a graphical way similar to a fishbone. A fishbone diagram also provides you with a better understanding of the problems, which will help solve the problem entirely.

Before using the fishbone diagram, you can construct it into six categories: men, materials, methods, machines, measurements, and mother nature. It will be easy for you to identify the problem’s cause and effect by constructing it like this. Bear in mind that the six categories are just a direction based on industry, and it may vary according to the project you are doing.

There are several benefits of using the Fishbone diagram; for example, it helps to identify and sort the potential causes and effect quickly. Another benefit of using Fishbone diagram is, it provides a systematic/structured way to brainstorm potential causes, effectively and efficiently. Apart from that, being a visual tool, this diagram is easy to understand and analyse since the it is pretty clear on delivering the cause and effect of the problems.

However, this fishbone diagram has its own limitations too, such as one fishbone diagram can only focus on one problem at a time. Another limitation of this diagram is it is based on opinion rather than a piece of concrete evidence

XY Matrix (Cause and Effect matrix)

XY Matrix or cause and effect matrix is a tool to find a correlation of process inputs to customer’s outputs. The benefit of using the XY Matrix is that it includes customer’s inputs for decision-making. Hence, we know what, where, and how to improve our products and services by considering the customer’s feedback. By using the XY Matrix tool, you can see how much the factor impacts your problem. For example, the higher the score, the more impact it has to your problem. However, this fishbone diagram has its own limitations too, such as one fishbone diagram can only focus on one problem at a time. Another limitation of this diagram is, it is based on opinion rather than a piece of concrete evidence.

How to use XY Matrix?

5 -Why Analysis

The idea came from Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, to develop the 5 Why analysis tool. This tool aims to ask and answer five times why question to have a potential root cause of the problems that an organization is currently facing. Not only that, but this tool is also to ensure decision making is made in-depth based on what happens on the ground. Apart from that, this tool also helps you understand how a process can cause a chain of problems.

The method of this tool is simple, when there is a problem occurs, you drill down to its root cause by asking ‘why’ five times. By asking why five times, it helps you to understand the cause and effect of a problem your organization is facing and preventing repetitive occurrences in the future.

3X5 Why Analysis

Should you require further analysis of the problem from the five why analysis tools, you may use the 3X5 Why Analysis as this tool is more specific. It can be done more precisely according to three different causes; specific, detention and systemic.

3X5 Why analysis tool can be done when you gather all the individuals that are involved in the process to help you dig down the root cause of the problem.

There are no problems left without solutions, and as a team leader, you must be able to tackle the root cause of the issues to avoid the same mistake reoccurring in your organization. Do not hesitate to contact us to know more about how the Root Cause Analysis Tools effectively solve the problem happening in your organization. For more information, visit our website at https://sixsigma.org.my or call us at +603 7873 8485. 

We look forward to seeing you on board!