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How to Combat Mediocrity in Your RCAs


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We are all problem solvers. Each and every one of us actively deals with problems on a regular, if not a daily basis.

However, the crucial question is “Is everyone actually good at problem solving?”

Mediocrity occurs for a number of reasons. We’ll focus on four aspects of your RCA program which, if not set up correctly, could be catalysts behind a consistent flow of mediocre root cause analysis investigations within your organization.

Published in: Engineering
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How to Combat Mediocrity in Your RCAs

  2. 2. We are all problem solvers. Each and every one of us actively deals with problems on a regular, if not a daily basis. © ARMS Reliability
  3. 3. However, the crucial question is “Is everyone actually good at problem solving?” © ARMS Reliability
  4. 4. Mediocrity occurs for a number of reasons. We’ll focus on four aspects of your RCA program which, if not set up correctly, could be catalysts behind a consistent flow of mediocre root cause analysis investigations within your organization. © ARMS Reliability
  6. 6. So, you’ve trained your employees in root cause analysis and you’re expecting to see some fantastic RCA results coming through. Right? © ARMS Reliability
  7. 7. ...Not so fast. © ARMS Reliability
  8. 8. If there is little structure to support the training in terms of: • a requirement to use the process, • mentoring and feedback provided to trainees, • or quality audits on their efforts, Then you can expect to see a whole range in terms of the quality of investigations being submitted. If the majority of the investigations are average then the value of the training comes into question. © ARMS Reliability
  9. 9. Sound Familiar? It’s Not meeting expectations people don’t like it people are not using it It’s Not working it’s not getting the results © ARMS Reliability
  10. 10. If ANYtraining is unsupported, the sameoutcomecould occur. So is this a problem with the training or a problem with the structure that supports the training? © ARMS Reliability
  11. 11. Two days of training or a week of training doesn’t make anyone an expert in anything. © ARMS Reliability
  12. 12. Each trainee sits somewhere along the learning curve at the start of the training and hopefully, if they have been paying attention, they move along the curve to a better place after the training. © ARMS Reliability
  13. 13. The purpose of the training is to skew the curve – to move the curve to the right so you have more investigations being completed to a higher standard. © ARMS Reliability
  14. 14. The challenge for all companies is to work out how to move trainees from where each individual sits on that learning curve after the training, to application of excellence within the discipline at which the training was directed. Isn’t this what was originally intended?© ARMS Reliability
  15. 15. We train our people and then, figuratively speaking, throw them to the wolves expecting them to be the evangelists for the learning and the cure to all of our problems. © ARMS Reliability
  16. 16. Average outcome = No value in training more staff = Acceptance of mediocre problem solving © ARMS Reliability
  17. 17. It is essential that there is a feedback loop, whereby mediocre investigation reports are not accepted, or signed off. © ARMS Reliability
  18. 18. Underpin your investigation program with managerial overview. Managers should be trained in the RCA method so they can: • Challenge the outcome • Provide positive recognition • Insist on rework © ARMS Reliability
  19. 19. If managers are not trained in the RCA method, then they are in the hands of the people who have been trained, and the danger is that mediocrity becomes the norm. © ARMS Reliability
  21. 21. How long does an investigation take? ONE HOUR? Four Hours? One Day? One Week? © ARMS Reliability
  22. 22. There is no right answer. © ARMS Reliability
  23. 23. If an investigation is warranted then it should be resourced to a point where an excellent result is possible. If that means you have 5 people in a room all day then so be it. The significance of the problem must warrant that level of support. © ARMS Reliability
  24. 24. Conducting a root cause analysis requires a dedication of time and resources to achieve a desirable outcome. How much do your problems cost you after all? If you want your investigations to be effective, then you will need to support them to the level needed. © ARMS Reliability
  25. 25. It’s essential to understand your organization’s threshold limits that determine the level of response. This allows you to allocate appropriate resources and time to the investigation. © ARMS Reliability
  26. 26. When you find yourself in a rush, ask yourself if you are simply satisfying the need to report, completing obligatory requirements, just meeting deadlines or is there a genuine opportunity to improve the business and make a difference. © ARMS Reliability
  27. 27. INVOLVING THE “RIGHT” PEOPLE 3. © ARMS Reliability
  28. 28. If you don’t have the “right” people in the room – those with intimate knowledge or experience with the problem, then how good will the investigation be? © ARMS Reliability
  29. 29. Information is a key ingredient in all investigations and successful investigations require that you have that information in the room in the form of the people who have the knowledge, data, evidence and reports. © ARMS Reliability
  30. 30. Support and approval from management are necessary for people to be given the time to attend the investigation. © ARMS Reliability
  31. 31. HAVING THE “RIGHT” FACILITATOR 4. © ARMS Reliability
  32. 32. Do you have the “right” person facilitating? © ARMS Reliability
  33. 33. Good communication skills are important, both verbal and non- verbal. A willingness to be the facilitator should also be considered... someone who has the desire to do this job. © ARMS Reliability
  34. 34. A good facilitator should be impartial, unbiased, willing to ask the dumb question, and arguably should not be the subject matter expert. A great facilitator recognises that the credit for a good investigation outcome belongs to the team, and he works deliberately to facilitate that outcome. Good Great © ARMS Reliability
  35. 35. IN SUMMARY... © ARMS Reliability
  36. 36. The cost of significant incidents has a direct impact on the bottom line. Incidents can cost a company hundreds-of-thousands or even multi-million dollars. © ARMS Reliability
  37. 37. Every incident or accident that occurs is an opportunity to learn. If we can learn effectively by doing a high quality RCA, then the goal of trying to prevent their reoccurrence is far more likely to be achieved. © ARMS Reliability
  38. 38. The best results occur from investigations that are well supported, have the right facilitator, and have the right people involved who have been given sufficient time to understand the event so they can present the best report possible.© ARMS Reliability
  39. 39. Getting these elements right will go a long way towards moving the quality of your RCA investigations away from mediocrity and towards excellence. © ARMS Reliability
  40. 40. Key factors in establishing your framework: • Standardize on a methodology and problem solving technique • Define a common application standard • Make sure you have easy to use reporting and charting tools • Empower your people to use the method and tools effectively Excellent RCA investigations come from excellent RCA programs. © ARMS Reliability
  41. 41. ARMS Reliability helps companies structure their RCA program to fit within the goals and objectives of the business. © ARMS Reliability
  42. 42. RCA Program Development Jumpstart Workshop provides you with a custom plan for implementingand sustaining your RCA program. LEARN MORE © ARMS Reliability
  43. 43. ARMS Reliability has trained over 20,000 people in the Apollo Root Cause Analysis™methodology in multiple languages across worldwide locations and a wide variety of industries. Our training languages include: English • Spanish • Portuguese • French • Dutch • German Chinese • Bahasa Indonesia • Romanian • Russian • Italian © ARMS Reliability
  44. 44. The Apollo Root Cause Analysis™method has been used for over 20 years to support effective problem solving. © ARMS Reliability
  45. 45. RealityCharting® software complements the method by providing a user- friendly way to document all the cause and effect relationships. It provides standardization, quality checks, and in- software help. DOWNLOAD FREE TRIAL © ARMS Reliability
  46. 46. To learn more about setting up your RCA program for success visit or email © ARMS Reliability