Problems are going to arise in business, but the companies that succeed in the long term are those that find the true causes of those problems and find ways to keep them from happening again.

When an issue occurs, the inclination is to stop it quickly. While this is fine, it is important to actually figure out what led to the issue so that it doesn’t happen again. A correction action needs to take place, not merely a correction.

Overview: What is a correction versus corrective action?

A correction is taking the initiative to deal with a problem in real time. Corrective action is taking the appropriate steps to ensure that there is no recurrence of the same problem in the future.

3 drawbacks of a correction versus corrective action

There are some clear drawbacks to making corrections versus corrective actions:

1. It does not identify the cause

A simple correction instead of a corrective action keeps you from properly identifying the true cause of an issue.

2. It does not explore the cause

Making a correction as opposed to a corrective action does not allow for the exploration of the steps that should be taken to eliminate the actual cause of an issue.

3. It leaves the door open for the problem to arise again

Merely making a correction and not taking corrective action leaves your organization vulnerable to having the same problem happen again.

Why is a correction versus corrective action important to understand?

Correction versus corrective action is important to understand for the following reasons:


Having an understanding of the difference between a correction and corrective action provides you with the opportunity to make real changes in your processes for the betterment of your organization.

Avoiding band-aids

Knowledge of what a correction is versus a corrective action increases the likelihood that you will resist putting bandages on issues and actually address the causes.


Understanding a correction versus corrective action will set you apart from others and show that you have real potential for leadership in an organization.

An industry example of correction versus corrective action

At a manufacturing plant, a small puddle of water collects on the floor whenever it rains. Last week, an employee slipped on a puddle and ended up sustaining an injury. As soon as the slip occurred, a maintenance person was sent to mop up the water. This correction made sure that no one else slipped that day. Unfortunately, it continued to rain throughout the week, and the puddle kept occurring, leading to two more workplace injuries. The plant manager decides to take corrective action and not only mop up the puddle but also have the leak in the roof fixed, as well as look at what can be done to strengthen the roof so that it is more impervious to leaks.

3 best practices when thinking about correction versus corrective action

Here are some key practices to consider when thinking about correction versus corrective action:

1. Identification

The first key practice for solving an issue is to determine the true cause. This can be accomplished through root-cause analysis.

2. Documentation

The second key practice for truly solving an issue is to document it and come up with the best solution for addressing it. This can be done by brainstorming with your team.

3. Elimination

The final key practice in solving a problem is to take steps to eliminate it. Taking the time and resources to properly identify and document the root cause of an issue and the method to handle it ends up being wasted if the work necessary to solve the problem is not done. Once the problem is eliminated, safeguards must be put in place to ensure that it does not come back.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about correction versus corrective action

What is the difference between a preventative action and a corrective action?

A corrective action is to stop an issue from recurring, while a preventative action is to prevent an issue from occurring in the first place.

What is CAPA?

It is an acronym that stands for Corrective Action, Preventive Action.

Why is documentation important in a corrective action?

Documentation is important so that there is a paper trail that shows approval for the steps taken to take corrective action. It also helps ensure that new and future employees are aware of the procedures in place to prevent the recurrence of issues.

A correction versus corrective action in your business

As part of the long-term success of your organization, choosing to take corrective actions is just smart. It saves time and resources, cuts down on waste, and provides a safer working environment for you and your team. While there may be costs that feel prohibitive when looking at taking the steps to truly tackle a problem, it is important to examine the costs that could come with not eliminating the problem. In all likelihood, the problem could not only have a recurrence, but it could keep coming back worse than before. Next time a problem occurs, put the work into taking corrective action instead of merely making a correction.
About the Author