Who Has the Information in Incident Investigation?

Apr 26, 2016 10:30:00 PM

Simple Question, But Powerful!

One of the most important questions to ask yourself in attempting to solve an incident quickly, accurately and permanently is to ask the following three questions:

  1. What do you know about the incident?
  2. What don’t you know about the incident?
  3. How can you collaborate with whom that could provide you with this missing information?

The million dollar question now is “How do you know what information you don’t have for this incident?”, because each incident is unique and might require different types of information? We suggest a simple “factor analysis” introduced by Rudyard Kipling more than 200 years ago. Once again this is a process approach that would be helpful in most diverse situations.


You will be surprised to know that in many cases where I was involved in a client situation I had to add very specific information sources, which I believed was not invited in the first place. This goes with the quote by Chuck Kepner:

blue-quotation-marks-leftIf a team could not solve an incident, the person with the appropriate information was not invited to the meeting.blue-quotation-marks-right

Therefore, when I get involved with a client investigation I make sure that I have the “appropriate brains” there and not necessarily the “best brains”. Because I am a consultant a client company will go “all out” to get the most senior people to attend the meeting. They want to make sure their money is well spent and do everything possible to ensure a successful meeting.

InformationOverloadIn an incident investigation meeting I would like to have the information sources present that are actually involved in the incident or are working closely with the people involved in the incident. In many cases I have to insist to have an operator joining us in a boardroom, which does not always go down with senior management that well.

A good example is when I worked with an airline helping them solve a baggage problem. In the end, it was the baggage handler with his dirty work attire that came up with a piece of information that convinced management of the possible cause of the incident. 

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Mat-thys Fourie

Written by Mat-thys Fourie

Washington, DC, United States | Founder & Chairman of Thinking Dimensions Global
Mr. Fourie is a thought leader on how IT professionals apply Incident Investigation techniques on a repeatable and sustainable basis within their organizations. His strength lies in customizing and embedding the various techniques within existing CSI, Incident and Problem Management practices.


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