Root Cause Model

Posted on May 15 2009

The root cause model is used to find the real cause of the problem. Often a decision cannot be made until this is completed. Root Cause Model is a structured step-by-step approach that focuses on finding the real or root cause of the problem. The process deals with it, rather than it’s symptoms. In analyzing the causes, potential solutions or decision alternatives are derived.

Most problems that companies experience are repeated, and they typically have set processes to resolve them. Sometimes, there are multiple approaches and a decision based on cost and effect must be made to determine the selected resolution.

In other cases, the decision to be made will be to determine how the problem can be prevented in the future. Sometimes, a problem is caused by several things, or a combination of several, such as physical conditions, human behavior, behavior of systems, or processes, so several root causes will usually be found.

Steps in a Root Cause Model

1. Ask why the condition has occurred.

2. Record all responses.

3. Iteratively ask why each of the responses occurred. Record each contributing factor and all causes. Proceed until you reach the root cause.

4. List the alternatives to change the root cause to corrent and prevent this action.

5. Use decision models and approaches, such as Cost Benefit, PMI, or a Step Model to choose an alternative.

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