During the staff meeting, one of our managers was talking about how a conveyor broke during start-up, causing downtime and thousands of pounds of product on hold due to possible foreign matter. While he explained the results of their root cause analysis, on my mind I was keeping a tally of how many times I heard about it the last couple of months.
We have a continuous improvement program, posters everywhere with the “steps” for problem solving, forms to fill out during each one of those steps and finally on every single corrective action report there is a mention to the root cause analysis. And yet, root cause analysis and problem solving are obviously not effective.
If you really want to get to the root of your problems, do not pick a solution and call it problem solving. Guess the reason for a problem is not root cause analysis either, not even when you have a meeting to talk about the problem and all agree on what the reason could be. Follow the process that better fit to your team, PDCA, DMAIC or other but follow it right. Our employees are watching, our supervisors are frustrated for dealing with the same issue over and over, they are eager to learn how to make it stop. We are responsible to show them the right path, take the lead and go to the gemba with them, see what is going on and do a real root cause analysis and problem solving session.