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    If you were recommending a root cause tool to people leaders to identify what is driving the nonconformities in their employees performance. What tools would you recommend?



    Can you measure these nonconformities?



    If they are already familiar with the Ishikawa / Fishbone diagram then you can encourage them to use that. I think most of the M’s and P’s are applicable if you want to use the source of the human errors. (No, I don’t belive that they’ll put everything under “Man”, their Machines, Environment etc. can contribute to lower performance…)
    The 8 Ms (used in manufacturing)
    • Machine (technology)
    • Method (process)
    • Material (Includes Raw Material, Consumables and Information.)
    • Man Power (physical work)/Mind Power (brain work): Kaizens, Suggestions
    • Measurement (Inspection)
    • Milieu/Mother Nature (Environment)
    • Management
    Money Power
    • Maintenance
    The 8 Ps (used in service industry)
    • Product=Service
    • Price
    • Place
    • Promotion
    • People
    • Process
    • Physical Evidence
    • Productivity & Quality





    More specifics might help produce more relevant answers.

    What aspects of employee performance need to be addressed? Employee performance is a huge subject area. You may build a poor reputation if you try to help folks with a “boil the ocean” project addressing broad employee performance. Make sure the scope is tight.

    I would not recommend general-purpose root cause tools like C&E matrix, fishbone diagram, why tree, or others for this need. All of these work from the premise that the people using them are expert in the “process” for which they are trying to reduce defects or variation. Most “people leaders” really aren’t expert in performance issues and classic open-ended tools will likely be ineffective or misleading.

    I’d recommend starting with a good employee performance reference that lists potential root causes that have been compiled from many, many man-years of study and then considering employees individually to narrow down root causes that may be causing their “nonconformity”.

    One such reference is “FYI, For Your Improvement”, by Lombardo and Eichinger. It lists 96 factors that limit employee performance. Root cause issues are likely different for each employee and this type of guide, in the hands of a good people leader, should be helpful in uncovering root causes and addressing them.



    if still on the site, hello to my old acquaintances.

    Disclaimer: I am sharing info that I teach and use daily….

    See the attached RCA document on what I teach and use today to help one understand problems from manufacturing to medical. Feel free to contact me offline at [email protected]. Ask for Chris.

    I will also be lecturing at the 2011 ASQ World Conference about the unbalanced Ishikawa Diagram where bones get filled in on the “fish-bone” based on the user’s knowledge and comfort zone).

    So regardless of the RCA tool you select ask this one question:

    Could you have collected the facts needed without the process you chose?

    “It is not how many questions you ask but what you ask”



    The most simple and the most common tool is why -why analysis.You may also use FMEA for root cause analysis.



    Simple… defined as:

    1. Dependent on the person asking the questions….. Which means dependent on the person’s experience or brainstorming.

    3. Highly variability of the output is acceptable…. Which means no MSA on the investigative process would pass

    4. Steers a person to one primary root cause….. no such thing (removing just one root cause leaves the rest of the system susceptible to the next one root cause)

    Do not confuse simple with acceptable.

    I prefer robust and usable.



    Thanks everyone who responded with either questions or answers! It’s greatly appreciated.

    In an effort to provide more context the non conformities can be measured, however the overall piece I neglected to tell folks was this group of leaders are non practitioners and wouldn’t even quality for a white or yellow belt designation. Thus based on everyone’s feedback, I took a hybrid approach of using the “for your information” root causes and introducing them to the 5 why’s (of course ensuring there is a follow up component to verify adoption!)

    Thanks again, this is truly an oustanding group!



    Please have a look at where a rca method is described which will help you reach true cause when all other paths have failed you.

    Kind regards,




    A process I’ve had some success with is that defined by Mager and Pipe in that it takes away the process, as much as you can, and looks at the other contributing factors.

    At the worst it gets people thinking about not just the people but the process they do, rewards and punishments attached etc.

    This link takes you through the questions you go through to get to a possible answer.

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