Going for the ‘root cause’


Don’t be afraid to look at what you really think about a problem

Change is misdirected when the causes of the problem are vague in the first place.

How many times have you reacted to something, but haven’t thought through the bottom line drivers of the problem?  Making changes as a way to respond are better formed when the deeper root causes are known.

Years ago in management training, I was introduced to the quality management concept of Root Cause Analysis.  The idea is that you get to the actual driving forces of quality problems and defects in your work.  The idea is pragmatic, but not always practical at the same time.  It takes time to really find out why and with what you are doing wrong.

Sometimes, you have to detach yourself from the environment you’re in to get to the deeper causes of a problem.  

Ways to go for the root causes:

  1. Back away from the problem for a while.  Backing away does not mean avoidance.
  2. Think deeply about what you think the bottom line is…what is your intuition and heart saying to you?
  3. An educated conscience will tell you what needs to be different. Those that are more in tune with themselves, can reach clearer definitions of the root causes.
  4. Write down what you really think.  Sometimes it might be a hard pill to swollow, but a reality that needs to be faced.
  5. Consider different options and conclusions.  Test them out and seek further validation through trusted colleagues.

Reaching the root, means you have to ‘dig in the dirt’.  There is often a lot of debris that needs to be cleared.