Root Cause Analysis...
  ... or better, Causal Trade-Off Analysis

The heart of most any problem-solving methodology is some methodology to dig to the root causes.  And collaborative discussions with all the relevant experts is key to that.  But collaborative discussions are ineffective without good visual models.  The fishbone (or Ishikawa) diagram is a common choice for that model, but many others exist.

However, that's not enough for problem-solving... to solve the problem, you need to be able to:

  • innovate remedies to those causes
  • identify what decisions must change to implement those remedies
  • make visual the impacts of changing those decisions on the rest of the system or design
  • understand the trade-offs that inevitably must be made vs. the customer and business interests
  • possibly innovate further if those trade-offs are undesirable or overly limiting

Failing to do those things before selecting a remedy to a problem will typically lead to causing other problems.  On the other hand, doing all that is comparable to repeating the decision process of the prior development effort... and never are problem solvers given time to solve the problem comparable to the original development effort.


The only good solution to this conundrum is reusable knowledge that was generated during the prior development effort, where they should have already done a rich causal trade-off analysis allowing them to make the original decisions based on concrete knowledge.  So, when a problem later occurs, it becomes an exercise in identifying the knowledge gap that wasn't identified previously, quickly closing that gap, and then incorporating that new knowledge into the existing knowledge in the form of decision-making tools ... and then seeing how that would change the design decisions.


So, our Causal Map tool (part of our Success Assured™ software) has been engineered to:

  • be even easier to use on-the-fly than a whiteboard, because you are often needing to make the visual modifications to prevent miscommunication during the collaborative discussions
  • support deep, complex analyses (fishbones are awkward if they get more than three levels deep; and even simple 5-Why Analysis calls for more than three levels; when building on your reusable knowledge, you begin to capture the full depth of the real-world complexity)
  • make clearly visible the knowledge of the impacts of your decisions on the customer and business interests that you need to satisfy
  • be useful for driving the identification and closing of the knowledge gaps that prevent you from knowing the best decisions to make or change to remedy the root causes
  • enable generation of decision-making tools based on that causal analysis (in the end, we need clear visiblility to the causal impacts on the trade-offs in order to make sound decisions)

That's why we believe our Causal Map is the best tool for Root Cause Analysis (or for more general Mind Mapping) available anywhere!  Contact us now to walk through a demo... on an example we provide and/or on one of your own examples. Or, read our new book, Success is Assured, which will walk you through the Causal Mapping of the design of an unmanned aircraft with an infrared tracking device.

Contact us now to learn more
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