A Better Way

Abstract:Multiple approaches to root cause analysis (RCA) are available, but the common focus is correction rather than identification of a problem’s root cause. The plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle is widely used to structure a failure investigation, but it does not identify a root cause without support. To pinpoint the source of a problem, the investigator should rely on a strategy that is robust yet practical, using empirical methods and a choice of tools. The scientific method is suggested for discovery, to be used with quality tools and statistics through an iterative inductive-deductive process called the RCA helix. The process should start with a hypothesis, observation, testing, and evaluation. Depending on results, the hypothesis can be adjusted as necessary and the cycle repeated until the root cause is identified with certainty and evidence-based corrections can be …

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