Root Cause Analysis Training that Sticks!

 In Blogs

It’s a bit of a dry subject, but we really do need Root Cause Analysis when things go wrong so my advice is to train your people proactively. When the ‘proverbial’ hits we need to be ready to work out what went wrong, why it went wrong and how we can stop the problem happening again.

In life threatening situations or where safety can be impacted, it’s a crucial business requirement, and we can imagine the reviews that are taking place following the Alton Towers accident! Recently, in the banking and finance industry, RCA has moved to the fore to ensure that we do not suffer similar global economic breakdown in future.

Even in business to business situations such as HR and back office processing, incidents or problems that occur can impact customer experience and loyalty, service agreements and long term relationships. It’s also useful in B2C scenarios. It can help distribution companies solve a spate of late delivery complaints or even the local farmer to work out why his cauliflower crop failed so that he can protect his business in the future

I always say that problems are an opportunity to improve! So, embedding a Root Cause Analysis mindset into your business can really drive continuous improvement.

One question still remains – how do we effectively train such a dry subject?

Make it real.

We were recently asked to roll out RCA across an organisation who were having difficulty in getting consistent standards and focus on the cause rather than the symptom.   We decided to make the learning authentic and fun on the basis that lessons from real life issues and stories are remembered more accurately, and for far longer. We wanted to spark curiosity and interest so we came up with some unique ways to get our message across, without arrogantly telling listeners what to think or do.

Key Messages

There were certain key messages my client wanted to get across including:

  1. The difference between Cause and Effect
  2. There are often a few root causes and we should continue delving into the situation until we find “the pot of gold”; the cause that will stop the issue happening in future
  3. Questioning and listening is the key art of RCA
  4. Human error is not a root cause

The Difference

Aside from the usual suspects in RCA theory and models our learners carried out RCA on Dandelions, the Titanic and the Irish Potato Famine and we did a really quirky take on the famous “Five Whys”! We used a variety of mediums to get points across based on the delegates preferred learning styles, even including some social media tie-ins. During 3 sessions we trained more than 50 people. The learners were enthralled – it was wonderful to see the penny dropping with so many in the room.


We had stunning feedback from some delegates who had previously attended Six Sigma training. They said our programme took the theory and made it real and more understandable and that they felt better equipped to carry out RCA in future. One delegate told me she was using it in her personal life and another person said they loved our quirky take on the 5 Whys! The proof of the learning was that there was an improved level of Root Cause Analysis carried out, since the programme and the Director that I worked with on this programme said he still hears the team laughing and quoting out 5 whys!

So, if your team are struggling to carry out thorough and useful Root Cause Analysis why not pick up the phone and call Ruth on 07976 509 551 and we will build you a unique and authentic programme that mirrors your business, will quickly solve your RCA problem and lead to continuous improvement

Ruth is the owner of The Change Directors. We are consultants with a difference. We roll up our sleeves and work along side your team to transform your business through your people.



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