Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis Definition

Problem-solving is an exercise that online whiteboards excel at facilitating. Finding solutions in collaboration is always more effective, and doing so on a problem-solving template is even better. Fresco’s root cause analysis is the perfect place for a team to explore new solutions in multiple directions to solve their problems.

A root cause analysis is an exercise that asks “why” and “how” questions to determine the root cause of a persisting issue. Asking simple clarifying questions can help expose the reason a problem exists instead of treating a symptom of the real issue.

This template expands and narrows the focus of the problem, helping your team find macro and micro-level solutions. By asking “why,” you discover the root cause of the issue, and by asking ”how,” you better understand how the issue manifests in your product/service. By using this board, you can find the right level of solution for your current problem.

Root Cause Analysis Template

The process of asking “why” and “how” is nothing innovative, but how the board is structured allows you to create a clear, logical path, connecting questions and answers until you find the right solution. Diagramming solutions linearly ensures that each one is directly connected to the previous questions and therefore relates to the original problem being analyzed. This template has space for an initial five questions on each side – but it isn’t necessarily a five-step process. Keep asking questions in each direction until you find a satisfactory solution that addresses the core issue.

By asking these questions, you keep finding new layers of answers that bring you closer to either a root issue or an actionable solution. While simplistic, this solution-building strategy is one of the most effective ways to find root problems and new solutions. Asking simple why & how questions are something anyone can easily grasp & participate in making collaboration.

Here is a quick overview of how to use this template effectively.

Step 1: Pose a Question

The root cause analysis template begins in the middle of the board, where you post a problem statement you’re experiencing. This can be an internal problem, something your customers’ experience, or a technical issue.

Step 2: Ask “Why?”

After highlighting your problem, begin asking “why” to understand what’s causing the issue. Chances are, the problem isn’t isolated and is the symptom of a larger issue. 

Ask “why” in multiple stages to provide a specific answer to each step. This will lead to an ultimate answer that will probably be your root cause. It’s important to ask “why” in succession like this to ensure that each solution can be traced back to the initial problem linearly.

Step 3: Ask “How?”

After finishing the “why” section, you should consider other ways the problem may manifest. Work in the opposite direction by asking “how” in a similar, successive manner.

Asking “how” helps expose problem areas that you might not have connected to the root issue. These issues can often be fixed through a similar solution rather than separately. While solving the root issue can prevent similar problems in the future, you may still need to patch up the existing problem areas. This is why asking “how” is so important and can help expose new issues you hadn’t uncovered.

Root Cause Analysis Benefits

Problem-solving is a critical activity for any team to conduct regularly, and using the root cause analysis template can help provide some unique benefits to the process. Here are the main advantages of using this template.

 

  • Create Linear Ties: A root cause analysis structures the problem-solving process by creating linear ties between problems and solutions. Because each problem leads to another question, everything will be related through a string of responses. This ensures that any solution will apply linearly down the line, affecting all of the problems under it.
  • Find Multi-level Solutions: Similar to creating linear solutions, the root cause analysis presents multiple layers of problems and solutions to analyze. Problem-solving on multiple levels provides many different actionable solutions that you can target to solve unique problems. When problem-solving traditionally, it is difficult to map solutions to a specific level of issue, but the root cause analysis makes it simple and effective.
  • Increase Communication: Using the root cause analysis template allows you to communicate a shared understanding of the initial problem and the core solution. Additionally, using this board in collaboration with your team means you can share this process with other people, integrate new perspectives, and communicate your findings easily.

Example Template for the Root Cause Analysis

Here’s an example of how to utilize the root cause analysis. Remember; each step asks another prompting question based on the previous answer.

 

  • Problem Statement: Ads aren’t generating enough traffic.
  • Why #1: Ad design isn’t targeted correctly.
  • Why #2: Ideal customer doesn’t fit product value.
  • Why #3: Budget prioritized product before market fit.
  • Final Why: Can’t take customers from the competition; need to establish niche value.
  • How #1: Not getting highlighted or seen enough.
  • How #2: Not getting clicked on.
  • How #3: The user base isn’t expanding.
  • Final How: The deal might not be intriguing.

 

This scenario didn’t need five questions on each side to get to a sustainable solution. On the “how” side, asking “how does this manifest” leads to an issue with the ad’s content. In between, however, there are issues with it’s placement and targeting, which are both related to the overall problem.

On the “why” side, the problem expands to show that the overall customer profile is poorly fitted, causing issues throughout the marketing stream. Fixing this issue is key to resolving the rest, but they should also be individually targeted to optimize future processes.

 

The root cause analysis template isn’t the only board you can use for problem-solving. The Fishbone Diagram offers an alternative look into solutions and, instead of looking for a root cause, helps map all potential problem areas that could be affecting your situation. This template is super helpful for multi-faceted problems that need to be attacked from multiple angles.

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