Let us examine this sentence as a stand alone statement – “The root cause is missing”. There is certainly a problem in this statement. It just does not seem okay. We, as excellence enthusiasts will like to say – If there is a problem in it, there must be a root cause. Yes, there must be and there is one! We can consider the root cause for the problem in the statement in the following ways.
The statement has something missing!
The statement is incomplete!
Some of the principles of good English Writing are not followed!
This is based on a wonderful explanation for root cause given by Ivan Fantin. According to him, the root cause for any problem in the world is ALWAYS covered in one or more of the three items covered in MIN – Missing, Incomplete or Not followed. The cause just cannot be anything that is unexplained by these three terms. It is really so? Always? For all kinds of problems in the world? I have been wanting to explore more on this and need your help.
Let us have a look at an example that explores inefficiency of security checks in a building. The root cause of inefficiency may lie in some missing checks (like those for liquid explosives), some aspects incomplete (like body being examined incompletely during frisking) and some procedures not followed (like no one carefully looking at scanned images while baggage move through the scanning machine).
As we explore more, I am hopeful that we shall decipher something of huge relevance to all. Let us examine elements of cause analysis story by asking ourselves if the MIN principle really works. Here is the story with questions –
Part 1 – In a monument at Washington, it was found that erosion levels were high and something was supposed to be done soon to prevent further dilapidation of the building. On observing closely, it was found that a strong chemical was being used to clean the building roof. The use of this cleaning chemical was leading to rapid erosion.
So, the cause of problem (erosion) was the long term use of cleaning chemical. Can the cause be explained as something missing, something incomplete, or something “not followed”? To make the question short – Does the MIN principle apply here?
Part 2 – The use of chemicals was found necessary due to presence of pigeon poops on the building. The presence of large number of pigeons was the cause for use of chemicals. Does the MIN principle apply here?
Part 3 – Study was done to find out the cause for large number of pigeons on the building. There were an unusually large number of spiders on the building. and pigeons like to eat spiders. So, the cause for large presence of pigeons was the presence of spiders. Does the MIN principle apply here?
Part 4 – On further analysis, it was found that spiders were present in large numbers because of an insect called Gnat as Spiders like to prey on Gnats. The cause for presence of Spiders was the presence of Gnats. Does the MIN principle apply here?
Part 5 – Gnats, it was found, are attracted to presence of artificial light at the time of dusk. The lights at this monument were turned on everyday before dusk (and a decision of turning lights ON a bit late solved the problem of fast erosion). The lights being turned ON early was the root cause. Does the MIN principle apply here?
I can sense that many of you have already noted that the first four questions are inappropriate. In question 1-4, the right way of applying the MIN principle was not followed. The MIN principle should be explored only on the root cause which connects with question number 5 and the knowledge that Gnats get attracted to artificial light (and that Gnats can create a chain of events leading to erosion of building) was missing.
The question you can answer now is this – While this pigeon poops case was just one story to explore the use of MIN, do you believe that the MIN principle is useful as a guide to ascertain the root cause of any or every problem? Is it always true that the root cause lies in one of the three MIN elements?
While we are engaged in the MIN thinking right now –
We should delve deeper into this and leave no element missing.
We should not leave this chain of thought incomplete.
If we do not follow a to and fro process of thought exchange, we shall probably lose a chance of exploring something highly valuable.
I shall be responding to this question in second part of this post in a week’s time. If you want to see that response or wish to discuss and explore more, do reply to this post.
Please click here to comment.
- When Design for Six Sigma Fails - September 24, 2015
- The root cause is missing - July 15, 2014
- Process Excellence Vs. Human Psychology - June 11, 2014
It sound quite similar to What,where, when, how & the why approach. I think just by finding about the “WHY” of any problem alone, one could reach the root cause and draw back the chain of events.
it is similar to 5 why process
It is an extended 5W process projected with an approach to clearly differentiate the root cause of a problem which helps to understand the three things which are M I N.
On the surface it looks easy, but to understand the principle of MIN elements, it needs knowledge and insight to the subject matter.
Stories makes complex idea simple and helps resolution. A good story line created . I would like to get linked to its continuation.
In this problem we find a procedure being followed so “not followed” seems not to apply. We could make the case that “missing” refers to a failure to understand the cause chain of the events and conditions but that is presumed to be true with any problem requiring a root cause methodology. Can the term “incomplete” refer to a procedure being inadequate or wrong? The lights will be turned on – what’s “incomplete”? Is identification of the correct timing for the lights to be turned on a part of the procedure that was “incomplete”? One could also say that the correct timing for the turning on of the lights was “missing” from the procedure. Note I am just thinking-out-loud” here. It seems to me the most amazing part of the RCA process exhibited here were the observations made about spiders and gnats – I wonder if I would have noticed that sequence in the field (on top of the monument). Impressive!
This is missing for sure:
A) Why FKB can be so extreme “flash”?
Because you may learn PREVIOUSLY [from University till your retirement, from the electrician till the Owner/President or GM/CEO and from 2 years till 2 weeks of study], all the SCIENCE & PHILOSOPHY of the FKB , so can be applied instantly on any STOP case of the line.
B) Why FKB is so complex solution possible?
Because it refers to the most technical complex target of the present and future industry: AUTOMATIONS.
C) Why FKB is a continuous improvement?
Because any STOP is made by a DEFECT and any defect is made by a human ERROR in the phase of : conception-design-production-startup-commissioning-use-maintenance of an automated machine.
Any eliminated/solved STOP by FKB will turn into a continuous improvement by decreasing the human errors [increasing reliability and safety] in the automation field of the 3rd Millennium industry/technology, because FKB SCIENCE & PHILOSOPHY is showing instantly the REAL CAUSE OF THE ERROR!
For details you are welcome to join:
Just search for: “Franz Kaizen Blitz” group.
As i understand, root cause is something which when eliminated or modified will get rid of the problem forever. So we have to delve as deep as required to find out such a cause.
I prefer the 5 W approach. Because there could be a perfectly natural reason as the root cause of a problem. The MIN questions would always come back as a No. Imagine the Gnats were attracted to the building because of a certain temperature around the building due to natural causes. Won’t all the MIN questions come back as negatives? Perhaps I’ve missed something here.
I believe to solve any issue / problem / task /question, we must do root cause analysis by checking MIS or answering question of 5W 1H.
After getting solution, implement and check whether solution is suitable considering present scenario. If yes, make it benchmark and do more for betterment.
I liked the concept of MIN and looking forward to see further details about this concept.
I would like to know further on this discussion
I would like to know further about MIN
MIN Approach – Sounds interesting and logical. But my question is how it is different from “Fishbone diagrams”. Even fishbone has following parameters where we can easily classify the potential root cause. So If I need to use MIN approach in my process for any kind of external errors how effective or appropriate would be the root cause.
Yes it is correct and similar to strategic for creative problem solving.
In my view ,its a creative and effective method to reach to the root cause of the problem. i would like to know further details of the study.