Root Cause Problem Solving

To Solve a Problem You must discover the Root Causes.

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Root Causes are the factors that fuel The Surface Problem. They are the source of the problem condition and the tributary events that bring about the problem.

How do You Discover the Root Causes?

The Root Cause Step exposes and categorizes all possible source causes to the problem and discovers systemic interplay that also contributes to The Surface Problem. The outcome of The Root Cause Step is a verbal and visual description of The Surface Problem and its causes.


To begin investigating The Root Causes, review The Alarm, The Expectation and The Surface Problem Statements.

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The very nature of The Root Causes is that they are hidden and not easily detected. Therefore, the team must conduct an intense search for possible root causes. Depending on the problem and accessibility of information, the time to search will vary. This is an important step, so be sure to provide adequate time to explore for root causes.

You Must Dig Deep to Find the Root Cause

A crucial technique to be successful at Root Cause discovery is to repeat the cycle of looking for potential root causes. Experience with Creative Root Cause Analysis (CRCA) has demonstrated, time and time again that the best insights into the root cause are identified in the third and fourth round of “Generate Ideas”.

how to get your ex girlfriend backand time again, that the discovery of The Root Cause comes in the third, fourth and fifth cycles of this probing inquiry. This repetition challenges the team to probe its subconscious, and investigate and interview for additional, not immediately obvious, connections and insights.

Repetition of this cycle forces the team to uncover a greater number of possible root causes, and the likelihood that more, deeply rooted causes will be revealed.

To facilitate repeated cycles of inquiry, ask these additional probing questions:

  • What’s changed?
  • Who is involved?
  • What happens leading up to the problem?
  • How could The Surface Problem be impacted by equipment, facilities, policies, procedures, management, materials, suppliers, environment, etc.?
  • Who witnessed the situation?
  • Who was involved with the situation?
  • Who reported the problem?
  • What were the qualifications?
  • What was the experience level?
  • What were the attitudes?
  • What were the people doing at the time?
  • How alert were those involved?
  • How were people treated?
  • How were people supervised?
  • How were people equipped?
  • How were people instructed?
  • How effective was communication?
  • What mitigating circumstances existed?
  • How would you describe the situation, sequence of events?
  • What was different than normal?

Never Rush to Judgment!

Remember, evaluative judgment and logic should be suspended until a complete list of possible causes has been generated and posted. Analysis and verification applied too soon will stifle creativity and the process of generating possible root causes.

To Learn more about the 6 Steps of Problem Solving and the fine points of Root Cause Discovery Read, Problem Terminators an Amazon ebook:

To Learn how to improve your skills in finding Root Causes download: The Master Facilitator’s Guide, Volume II, Creative Root Cause Analysis