Domain Problem Solving


A Practical Guide on Root Cause Analysis

Don't stay on the surface, start digging

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  • 1.5 hours
  • 26 lessons
  • Beginner course

Course description

In this course, we’ll help you how to find the root cause of your problems. Solving problems, that’s what we do day in day out. We fix problems in our personal and professional life. And that’s what we love to do! Happiness comes from solving problems.

But let’s pause for a minute. How many problems have you already solved in the long term? People are experts in finding quick fixes to problems. They only focus on the symptoms they see, hear, or feel, but they forget to dig for the problem’s root cause.

Is that something you recognize? Well, then you’ve come to the right place. In this course, we will provide the tools and techniques that improve your chances to successfully solve a problem by digging for the root cause(s). You’ll see that this only tackles one step of your typical problem-solving framework. However, it’s a pivotal step to take in the messy reality of problem-solving.

Once this scene has been set, we take a closer look at cause-and-effect chains. To do so, we set out a simple definition to truly understand what a cause is. Once that’s clear, we expose a problem’s underlying structure. Spoiler alert: it points at different root causes and sub-causes.

At this point, you might be wondering how to find all causes. That’s what the next module will tackle. We’ll illustrate how to best approach this process and create your cause-effect structure based on a more extensive example. You’ll typically meet some challenges that we’ll provide with an answer in the next part of this module:

  • Which stakeholder do we need to involve?

  • How do we know we’ve found all causes and relationships?

  • When do we stop our analysis?

Building your cause-effect structure, you need sanity checks to overcome challenges and improve the quality of your analysis. There’s eight sanity check to keep in mind:

  • Clarity: everything should be clear

  • The truth and nothing but the truth: fact-check first

  • Correlation is not causality: Polio and ice cream consumption – are they related?

  • Indirect effect: add additional relationships to guide your audience

  • Remove duplicates: discover tautologies

  • Insufficient cause: what else?

  • Vicious cycles: don’t fall into a downward spiral

  • Emotions: be logical

After going through the sanity checks, the next module will tell you everything you need to know to find the actual causes. You’ll learn how to find the best answer to your question. Using a set of simple techniques, you’ll grasp how to identify the set of causes that best explain the problem. You can do some things: group cause to reduce complexity, gather evidence, and find your Pareto optimum. All of these techniques are discussed in detail in this module.

Ideally, when approaching this course's final module, you have found the cause underlying the problem. At this point, you start looking at solutions to remove the cause from the equation. We hope this is the result you achieve when following the course. However, we do give you some final pointers as well for when the result is inconclusive.



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      Setting the scene


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      A typical problem-solving framework


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      The reality of problem-solving


  1. Cause-and-effect chains

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      What is a cause?


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      Exposing a problem's underlying structure


  2. How to find all causes?

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      A bigger example


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      Brainstorm first, then structure


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      Collectively exhausitve frameworks


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      When to stop?


  3. Problem analysis sanity checks

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      8 sanity checks


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      The truth and nothing but the truth


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      Correlation is not causality


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      Indirect effects


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      Remove duplicates


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      Insufficient cause


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      Vicious cycles


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  4. Find the actual cause(s)

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      Problem solved


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      Group causes to reduce complexity


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      Evidence to the rescue


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      Let Pareto be your guide


  5. Problem analyzed

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      Still inconclusive


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Why follow this course?

We often think the world of problem-solving is easy – one cause for a problem. Reality check, it’s not. Problem-solving is dirty, chaotic and full of uncertainty. In real life, it’s even unusual to have a single cause and only a single effect. Systems contain many cause-effect relationships that interrelate in complex ways, so it is often unclear what causes it. Deciding what to change is often even more problematic because the people with experience often have only a narrow view of the parts of the system they interact with. They don’t see the bigger picture. So yes, this cause analysis is essential in finding solutions.

About the teacher

Jasper Bosmans

Business Architect - Trainer

Jasper Bosmans in front of a blue green backgroundTeacher Logo

Jasper Bosmans is a passionate Business Architect. With experience in Business Analysis, Functional Analysis, and Innovation Management, Jasper strives to solve companies' most challenging problems with (technological) solutions to accelerate growth & optimize the customer experience.

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