root cause analysis3L 5Why Analysis

3L 5Why Analysis

5 Why Analysis is synonymous with Root Cause Analysis nowadays with most organizations having knowledge and know-how to perform 5 Why analysis. Most leaders encourage their leaders to use 5 why analysis to identify the root cause. That’s the good news!

Now the bad news 🙁 Most of the 5 Why analysis are incomplete and provide only tactical means to the current situation. They hardly look at underlying system level causes. If you don’t agree, list down all those problems in your organization that have been occurring for more than 5 years now, manifesting itself in some form or the other, in spite of a series of efforts year on year to arrest it. I have noticed that after some time, there is an innate acceptance in the organization that this problem is like the seasonal flu, it will keep coming again and again, we can’t do much other than taking precautions and facing it’s aftermath. In corporate, such perennial problems start off a mill of finger pointing rituals targeting other functions, individuals, company policy, customers, and even competition.

A comprehensive 5 Why Analysis should identify the systemic root cause of any problem. Some problems don’t need deep analysis at system level. Depending on the severity and occurrence of a problem, it should be possible to prioritize energies in identification of System level root causes wherever required.

Are you looking for ‘Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders’? To know more

3L 5 Why analysis, represents 3 Level 5 Why analysis performed around the same symptom.
The 3 levels of the 5 Why analysis implies, performing 3 different 5 why analysis on the same problem from 3 different perspectives – 

Here’s is how I use this method with my client projects and for coaching teams during my engagements (and it’s a little different from what others do with 3L 5 Why):

  1. Level 1 – Specific to the problem – Perform 5 Why analysis for the issue on hand. It can be related to customers, regulators, safety, quality , productivity or any other significant failure. Usually this is done by the people closest to the processes in question, essentially the doers and immediate team leaders. The purpose of this level 1 5 why analysis is to identify the root cause for why the problem on hand occurred. For ex: Lets say, your regulator has fined you for non-conformance in a standard laid out by them. Here, our focus will be on : Why did we get fined now?
  2. Level  2- Specific to the detection mechanism – Ideally this level of analysis has to be done by managers. They have laid out processes, controls, checks and balances to ensure critical issues are identified before it goes outside the organization. So the focus of this level of 5 why root cause analysis will be to identify the root causes for why the detection system allowed defects to pass downstream. Hence addressing this area will strengthen the control and governance system. For ex: Why did the transactions escape the automated checks, human checkers, approvers, auditors, process owners, etc
  3. Level 3 – Specific to the systemic issue – The last and highest level aims to look for systemic deficiencies that lead to the problem. From my experience, this requires a very good understanding of the entire value chain. Actually it also requires a candid acceptance of flaws in the enterprise such as culture issues, process deficiencies, silos, resourcing gap, ineffective leadership, etc. Ideal for senior leaders to deep dive to identify system level root causes. From my experience, this is best done at periodic intervals by combining the study of several similar L1 and L2 failures. Most of them converge to a handful of common system level root causes. Unfortunately, the hard hitting reality is that these are conveniently ignored. For ex, in the case of compliance issue we touched earlier, an example of system level cause is, employees are held accountable for their mistakes and it directly impacts their growth and C&B; And so most of them wish to cover up anything that occured, even if it was inadvertent. 

There are several practical strategies that need to be developed to improve the effectiveness of 3L 5 Why analysis depending on culture, know-how, sector, etc. 

Another important missing link to 3L 5 Why analysis is the data based validation. It is almost impossible to get to the root cause by merely brainstorming. An ideal approach would be to use a triangulation method.

If you are looking for Lean Six Sigma Workshop/mentoring in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us.

Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders 

Let us explain why ‘Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders’ is needed. Business Leaders are hired to drive change, bring in transformation, incubate new ideas and grow the business and not merely to sustain current levels. So it is important for them to be good at problem solving. That’s given and most business leaders come in with very good troubleshooting skills. They can clear bottlenecks and get things going.

Here are two statements about the nature of the business problems. Let’s say these are my hypotheses:

I’m going to allow you to decide which of these fits in your scheme of things.

Immaterial of that, problems once solved will not recur under 3 conditions:

Unfortunately, we falter at least in one of these steps and that’s not good for the business. Buy why?

Based on my experience in mentoring several business leaders in solving business problems, the most common causes I notice are :

How can leaders hone their business problem solving or root cause analysis skills?

The answer simply lies in learning by doing. Creating multiple opportunities to get their hands dirty with run problems and in doing so, every time improve. This is easier said than done. The most practical way to do this is through RCA Boot Camps.

Root Cause Analysis Boot Camp for Business Leaders covers:

Should you have any questions regarding the RCA Boot Camps, feel free to reach out to us.

If you are looking for Root Cause Analysis Boot Camps in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and across India, contact us

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