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Your Six Sigma Analysis Toolkit: Root Cause Analysis

What is Root Cause Analysis?

The most helpful tool in the Six Sigma Analysis Toolkit is Root Cause Analysis. Root Cause Analysis is a problem-solving method that locates and corrects errors within a system. This tool is typically implemented when a manufacturing, supply chain, or other business processes continually experiences defects in production. Working retroactively, you begin at the location of the defect and works backwards towards the original cause of the problem. Six Sigma professionals utilize this tool as it is a crucial aspect of the methodology. For employees, Root Cause Analysis is the best way to improve business operations, increase efficiency, and deter defects. In this article, we will outline a few of the tools you can use for Root Cause Analysis and how they will help you.

The Tools


The first tool is a Scatter Diagram. Using numerical data, this diagram displays graphs that show correlations between two different variables. When conducting Root Cause Analysis, your goal is to find the initial point of the defect during a process. Scatter Diagrams provide you with finding relationships that might be leading to your errors with the system.


Like the Scatter Diagram, A Fishbone Diagram is also an easy way to identify leading causes of your system errors. Also, known as the Ishikawa Diagram, this tool helps by identifying all possible causes for your defects. Then, these causes are sorted and categorized, in an organized manner. This allows you to see how many variables are related to the defect, if they originating from the same area, and if they are directly (or indirectly) causing your errors.


Next, Pareto Charts are a useful tool that graphically show which factors and variables are most significant to your production error. Since the goal of Root Cause Analysis is to locate and correct errors within your system, Pareto Charts easily show where you should most likely begin your search. These charts may show you variables you have not yet considered or even speed up finding the root cause of your errors.


The last, and most useful, Root Cause Analysis tool is the 5 Whys. How the 5 Whys works is by your first defining your specific problem. Next, you ask why the problem happened in the first place and evaluate if this leads you to your root cause. If it does not, ask “Why?” again and continue to do so, isolating the cause of the problem until you have your final answer. This tool is a simple, yet effective, way to identify your root cause, show relations between different variables in your system, and requires as little or as much effort as you desire.

Why Use Them?

Conducting Root Cause Analysis is the perfect opportunity to showcase your knowledge of the Six Sigma methodology. By doing this, you can show to effectively locate and correct errors within your operations, improve business efficiency, and decrease the chances of future defects.

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