Cause & Effect

Posted: March 26, 2014 in Root Cause
Tags: ,

Cause-EffectOne of the techniques I don’t think I’ve fully mastered is the well-known “Five Why’s” technique. On paper it seems fairly simple: keep asking why until you reach the root cause (which typically involves a ‘people/management’ factor). In practice, it seems far more challenging. I find the causes usually stay at the superficial/symptom level or one ends up down a rabbit warren. This is one techniques that I need some coaching on before I will be effective.

That said, one of the complementary tools I did stumble across in my reading is the cause-effect diagram and I have found this very effective when mapping a problem-solution type conversation. So far I’ve intentionally used it twice: once in a five-why session and once to track a conversation my team was having during a retrospective about a statement I had made around our delivery for the sprint. In the latter instance, I did have a technique prepared which I was going to use to facilitate some analysis of the sprint outcomes, but after making my introductory statement, the team ran with the analysis without any prompting at all. While they spoke, I silently tracked key points using the cause-effect diagram and later used it to come back and probe points that required further unpacking. We then used the picture on the board to identify actions – both immediate (for the next sprint) and longer term. Documentation was also easy: a photograph of the diagram with highlighted actions.



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