God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference. (Serenity Prayer, Reinhold Niebuhr)

Root Cause Analysis

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a class of problem solving methods aimed at identifying the root causes of problems or events. The practice of RCA is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to correct or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms (Wikipedia).


  1. Identify the problem - Make sure that everyone is focused on the same issue. It may involve analysis of data and writing a problem statement.
  2. List possible root causes - List a wide range of possibilities. Brainstorming and cause and effect analysis are often used.
  3. Search out the most likely root cause - Looking for patterns in failure of the process.
  4. Identify potential solutions - Develop a list of possible actions to remedy the problem.
  5. Select and implement a solution - Each solution should be evaluated as to its potential for success, cost and timing to implement.
  6. Follow up to evaluate the effect - Monitoring the process after the solution has been implemented.
  7. Standardize the process - The solution needs to be built into the process so that it will continue to work once focused attention on the problem is gone.