An Ounce of Prevention

Article

Wessel, Dave   (1998, Dave Wessel)   Kepner-Tregoe, Princeton, NJ

Quality Progress    Vol. 31    No. 12
QICID: 13294    December 1998    pp. 33-36

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Article Abstract

Causes and effects are important targets of corrective and preventive action initiatives. Logical thinking is necessary for effectively moving from present effects or symptoms to past causes (in corrective action) and for removing the causes of potential future problems (in preventive action.) Corrective action eliminates causes of actual problems, this being the ultimate target of troubleshooting. However, an acceptable temporary measure is adaptive action, which reduces or eliminates the effects of actual problems. Similarly, there are two levels for dealing with potential problems. Preventive action reduces the likelihood that the problems will occur, while contingent action reduces the harm caused by future problems, should they occur. All these actions are valid, but there has been too much reliance on adaptive and contingent actions, both of which deal with effects. It would be better to focus on causes. This focus is visible in the 1994 revision of the ISO 9000 standards, in which Clause 4.14 emphasizes the cause elements of both corrective and prevention actions.

Keywords

Problem solving,Corrective action,ISO 9000,Prevention


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