Root Cause Problem Solving: The Alarm

First Indication of a Problem is The Alarm

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In Root Cause Problem Solving an alarm is an indicator of a possible problem. It is a signal or “red flag” that warns or alerts the team of potential difficulties. Problem solving is reactive. Therefore, problem solving is nearly always activated by some kind of alarm, which is the first recognized indication that something may be wrong.

Why is The Alarm Important to Problem Solving?

The purpose of the alarm step is to accurately describe the initially recognized indicator of a potential problem. It is important to remember that the alarm is not a problem. The Alarm is the indicator that there may be a problem. It is the task of the team to identify in descriptive, concise, informative terms what has been obIn describing an alarm, it is important that the description be assumption free, using no conjunctions or any causal words. The alarm step recognizes a problem indicator and determines an appropriate response to that indicator. The purpose of this step is for the team to recognize an indicator of a potential problem, accurately describe and verify it, make an initial evaluation of the alarm, and react most appropriately to it.

What is The Alarms Role in Problem Solving?

The alarm step describes the initial undesirable situation/event that is believed to have undesirable consequences. The best alarm statements answer:

What happened?

Where did it happen?

When did it happen?

Who was involved?

How do you know when The Alarm is identified in Problem Solving?

The alarm step is successfully completed when, by consent, the team has identified the alarm; is in full agreement with the alarm statement; and has set in motion an appropriate response.

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