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Lean Tools, Training, and Systems

Root Cause Analysis Tools

Guidance to choose the right Root Cause Analysis Template

What is Root Cause Analysis?

The phrase 'Root Cause Analysis' is used to describe a variety of lean tools and methods

that each provide a systematic, teachable, coachable approach to identify root causes

(not just symptoms)

which can then be systematically eliminated, minimized, or (at least) detected using a variety of problem solving tools and lean management systems

When to do Root Cause Analysis

cartoon big glasses

Whenever something goes wrong (or might go wrong)

that caused (or might cause) enough damage, pain, and cost

to justify investing a few minutes to ensure that it never happens (again)

Why use a Root Cause Analysis Template?

For the same reasons that you use any software

  1. To be legible

    and understandable, even to stakeholders who didn't participate

  2. To socialize your results

    with an Excel file or PDF that can be shared, discussed, and socialized

  3. To have a standardized process with helpful training

    to remind your team of all factors to consider every time that you do root cause analysis

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Which Root Cause Analysis Format?

These first three are the classic (and most popular) root cause analysis templates

Ishikawa Root Cause Analysis Fishbone Diagram

Root Cause Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram

The most popular well-known tool for root cause problem solving

is the Ishikawa Fishbone Diagram  (RootCause.xlsx)

It is the right tool to use when...

Root Cause Analysis Map

The Root Cause Analysis Map  (RootMap.xlsx)

is equally easy to use, and yet usually proves to yield more thorough analysis, and is therefore often a better choice for root cause analysis.

Root Cause Mapping template

It is the right tool to use when...

Thought Map Relations Diagram

Relations Diagram for root cause analysis

If you really don't know what to put in the fish head

because you're swimming in problems, and can't choose which one to focus on first...

then that's the time to consider using your
Thought Map Relations Diagram  (RelationsDiagram.xlsx)

You might only use this template once in your career

but it might save your career when you do

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Root Cause Analyisis Templates

These next templates have additional purposes, in addition to being extremely useful for root cause analysis

Pareto Chart

Pareto chart

The bars on your Pareto Chart template  (Pareto.xlsx)

show which things happen most frequently

(so that you can focus on root causes of your most common problems)

Scatter Plot

Scatter Plot root cause analysis

Use your Scatter Plot template  (ScatterPlot.xlsx)

to look for a relationship

in graphed pairs of numerical data

Brainstorming Template

Brainstorming template for root cause analysis

The decision of whether or not to use

your Brainstorming template  (Brainstorming.docx)

is not an 'either / or' choice

A skilled facilitator will be ready to introduce a team

to diverse brainstorming methods

no matter which other tools or approaches are also being used

Gemba Interview Form

Gemba Interview Form for root cause probelm solving

Why not ask the people who do the work every day?

Rather than just silently observing... and then huddling in a conference room to make guesses about root causes,

if you get in the habit of discussing skillful questions with the people that do the work, you will often find that they have useful intuitive insights and ideas.

8D Problem Solving

8D root cause analysis template

If your problem might involve other members of your supply chain

then your 8D Problem Solving template  (8D.xlsx)

has a special feature to 'Generate a Working Document', so that you can circulate your root cause analysis problem solving document with your suppliers (and supply chain members that might not yet own a license for Systems2win)

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

It has been said that "an FMEA is an 8D waiting to happen"

FMEA tools for root cause analysis

Rather than waiting to do post-mortem root cause analysis on accidents and incidents that have already inflicted damage...

a more competent team will get proactive...

and use their FMEA templates and systems to anticipate, minimize, and prevent potential risks

(and especially root causes of potential risks)

Five Whys Template

5 Whys PowerPoint slide

The simplest form of a root cause analysis tool

is to simply ask "Why?" several times

Your Systems2win templates don't include a Five Whys template

but you will find several free ones on the Internet

The right way to use a Five Whys PowerPoint template

is to create a succinct summary of the one most important Cause and Effect thread

that your team came up with as a result of using one of the (thorough) root cause analysis tools above.

The wrong way to use a Five Whys template

is to try to short-cut the process by following only 1 thread of Cause and Effect relationships

and then proudly proclaiming that you are "using lean methods"

Although there are rare situations where a problem is so simple that you might justifiably use this extremely abbreviated approach... but much more commonly... this would be an example of 'fake lean'.

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Suggested Reading and Resources for

Root Cause Analysis Tools






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