No matter what industry you are in – when an issue arises, you have to get to the root of the problem in order to formulate a solution. There are three key ways of going about this that I find very useful:
- Using the Five Whys
- Root Cause Analysis
- Decision Tree Analysis
The Five Whys technique is one of my personal favorites. This method challenges you to go deeper into the issue than you may have on your own. This method can be a great way to think about components that you may never have considered. It can be something as small as a missing link on a website, or something as significant as a natural disaster that is causing the trouble.
An in-depth Root Cause Analysis can be a really great way to dig even deeper into an issue. Breaking out all the pieces, pulling reports to dig into the data and so on. This process can help you find the reason behind the result and help you to formulate a plan to correct the problem.
But if you need to go even deeper than the Five Whys and a Root Cause, you can turn to a Decision Tree Analysis. This step-by-step process can be completely customized to fit your needs, and can be a really great way to find multiple issues that you can possibly have a positive impact on.
A Decision Tree Analysis often looks like a flow chart, in a tree-like pattern of branches. I even think of it like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. You start at the beginning and work your way through, documenting your results for follow up – or even for further analysis. This form of detailed analysis can be a bit time-consuming, but can really help you improve your results, or at least understand the why behind an outcome.
A team could consider creating a templated Decision Tree Analysis to use as a reference when extensive research is needed. This can be really great for training new hires who may be unfamiliar with certain paths and potential outcomes. Depending on what you uncover, whether you are using the Five Whys, Root Cause or Decision Tree Analysis, you can then move towards a solution to better impact the bottom line.