When people skills are discussed in respect of Root Cause Analysis, the remark is often heard that it should be easy to use and also that it should be quick. From this perspective, often the choice is to use the “5 Whys” method, since it is ‘easy’ and ‘quick’. This approach to selecting a problem solving tool clearly demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding in respect of not only root cause analysis, but problem solving in general.
When deciding about root cause analysis and problem solving skills, we need to start with the issues we need solve and not people. Not all problems are the same, it is common that problems differ vastly and that some are more difficult to solve than others. Keeping the foregoing in mind, the nature and level of difficulty of a problem must therefore dictate the selection of the problem solving tool, rather than the fact that the tool may fit the desire of being simplistic and easy to use.