Does it annoy you when you see people “fix” a problem without getting to the bottom of why it became a problem in the first place? It’s frustrating because you know they’re just going to have the same problem to fix again in the future.
You certainly know someone who patches up things that have gone wrong, only to do it all over again in the near future. Don’t you?
So what can you do to avoid making a similar mistake with your own problems? Employ a few causal analysis tactics and you’ll be set.
The Effective Technique to Problem Solving: Causal Analysis
Causal analysis, also known as root cause analysis or cause-and-effect reasoning, is a popular and effective problem-solving technique designed to help you understand precisely why the problem occurred and how it can ultimately be fixed for good.
It’s a popular concept that has been discussed at length in the book Root Cause Analysis : A Tool for Total Quality Management.1
For example, instead of simply repainting your wall, you’ll use causal analysis techniques to work out that the wall is damp, then why the wall got damp in the first place, and ensure your costly repair job is actually going to be the end of the problem for good.
The simplest way to look at a problem using causal analysis is to ask ‘why’ five times.
Obviously, some problems will take more or less than five times to uncover the reasons behind them, but on the whole using five times as a rule should help you remember to dig deeper every time you’re analysing the root cause of a problem.
So, instead of saying “There’s a problem with my resumé “, you would ask “Why?” five times and get an answer something like this:
There’s a problem with my resumé. Why?
Because I’m not getting the job offers I want. Why?
I keep getting offered sales positions, when I want marketing jobs. Why?
Because all my previous jobs were in sales. Why?
Because no-one knows I’m good at marketing. Why?
Because I never made that clear on my resume, I just listed the previous jobs I had.
Bingo, you have the answer!