Root Cause Analysis

It is inevitable that during your implementation you run into quality situations which do not meet the standards and targets you have set. When this occurs, the root cause analysis is often very helpful to quickly get to the base causes of inconsistencies. This is a simple tool in which you start at the top, ask why and collect data to reveal the causes at the top level. You then again ask why for the top causes at the top level, collect data to reveal the key causes at the next level down. This continues down successive layers until you get to the root cause of the inconsistencies or delays – quickly fix them and then remeasure at the top level to track progress.



  1. The root cause analysis chart is worked from right to left. Start by describing the key problem or symptom and place it in the right-most box.
  2. Then ask the team to identify the potential causes of the problem or symptom. Place these causes in the next series of boxes to the left — one box per cause / symptom. Then gather data (quantitative and/or qualitative) to identify the importance of each of the causes. Here it’s helpful to assign a percent to each box.
  3. For the box with the highest percent, identify the potential causes of the problem or symptom. As in step two, place these causes in a series of boxes to the left of this box and identify those causes / symptoms that are causing most of the problems. Continue working your way backwards until you have found the root cause.


Completing this tool usually requires a sub team to go out and measure / tally specific events. Although it can often be time consuming, it helps the team to identify that which, if solved, will have the maximum results.

Just keep asking “Why?”