Root cause analysis (RCA) is a tool to help identify what, how, and why an event occurred so that steps can be taken to prevent future occurrences.
Essentially it is based on four general principles:
- Define and describe properly the event or problem
- Establish a timeline from normal situation until the final crisis or failure.
- Distinguish between root causes and causal factor.
- Once implemented (and with constant execution), RCA is transformed into a method of problem prediction.
We have great expectations from our leaders – in all sectors it would seem that there is a demand for great leadership. Leaders that we can trust rely on, and who are able to address the challenges that will enable their organisation to prosper and fulfil its mission.
In order to perform this role, some may assume that leaders are all-knowing. However, we know in reality that this is not reasonable or possible. In fact, there are advantages to leaders admitting that they don’t have all the answers – amongst these are the development of their employees and the generation of employee engagement as they seek information, context and ideas from those who they work with.
Root Cause Analysis is a process that can assist you, as a leader, to increase your knowledge and understanding; to engage your employees and smooth your journey to transformational leadership in many ways.
Embedding a Root Cause Analysis process and culture in your organisation will:
Engage your employees
Root Cause Analysis is a tool that will give your employees a voice. This occurs by engaging those people close to the problem to provide the information that enables them and you to understand the problem. With the help of the RCA process, they will be able to use this analysis and this understanding — applying their experience to identify valuable and valued solutions.
Enrich your understanding, in the context of your organisation
Using RCA to create a detailed analysis of events and systems in the organisation will grow your ability to ask more, and better, questions. It will prompt you to inquire more deeply to unearth important ideas. As a leader, when you improve the quality and quantity of questions you ask, you increase the potentially valuable information you receive.
Contribute to Business Improvement
No business can afford to stand still. Doing so threatens their competitive edge. So, continuous business improvement is fundamental to effective leadership. In order to think about improvement, there is the need to determine current performance and to analyse the causes of current performance. Root Cause Analysis enables the relevant people to become involved and contribute to this analysis and to provide reporting in a way that is simple for you as a leader to understand the key issues.
Enable you and the organisation to learn from failures
We all know that learning from failure is one of the most important capacities for people and organisations to develop. If you haven’t experienced failure – or have ignored the lessons inherent in the process – you’re missing out on your most valuable opportunities for growth. Root Cause Analysis provides the possibility of taking the focus away from non-specific causes, opinion, blame and punishment by shifting the focus to systemic causes, objectivity, collaboration and data.
Enable you to utilise your organisation’s successes
Surprisingly, learning from success can present even greater challenges. When we succeed, we’re likely to conclude that our talents and our current model or strategy are the reasons. Success increases our self-assurance. Leaders can forget to factor in the part that other factors, such as current economic environment or random events, have played in business success. The result is the belief that we don’t need to change anything. Some call this the failure-to-ask-why syndrome—the tendency not to investigate the causes of good performance systematically means that you will be less likely to replicate your success.
Leadership is about being proactive
By talking with and listening to employees, rather than simply issuing orders, you can retain or recapture some of the qualities—operational flexibility, high levels of employee engagement, tight strategic alignment—that will enable you to confidently deliver effective and transformational leadership.