• Team O

Is the problem the problem?


Conducting some basic root cause analysis can help identify the real problems when you're trying to improve your own or organisational effectiveness. Taking time to step back in a structured way allows you to identify the issues that will have the most significant impact. Created by Japanese work psychologist Kaoru Ishikawa, the Fishbone diagram is simple to use and very effective!

Taking the simple concept of a tree showing irregular growth and a bare patch, allows us to view what we see as the immediate (sometimes seemingly obvious) issues. It may seem natural, almost a no-brainer, to treat what you can see in plain sight. But sometimes the issue/problem is purely a symptom or by-product of something else going on - and this is where root cause analysis really comes into it's own.

The Fishbone is one of many visual aids/templates that can be used to get to the problem. We like it for its simplicity to map your thoughts and outcomes. First of all you need to collect the data - what's happening and where?

Then plot the 'casual' factors or activities that happen along the route - be it people, process or actions.

Review your findings and look at the information in front of you - is there a clear stand out? Has something in the process broken? Was/is 'someone' responsible? Can it be fixed?

The problem or issue needs to have a solution to be effective...if there's one to be had. That boils down to recommending a solution, and most importantly, implementing it. For there to be real last change the actual doing of 'it' has to happen and continue happening. So whether it's a personal effectiveness issue or an organisational one - dig a little deeper and ask yourself - is the problem, really the problem?



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