root causeOK, quick recap: In part one we talked about definition; in part two we discussed data identification and collection, and interim containment; part three discussed identifying the root cause.

Now we’ll discuss what to do once we know the true causes of the problem.

It sounds pretty simple and straightforward, really – eliminate the root causes. But we find out that it’s not as straightforward as it may seem….

When eliminating the true root cause, you want to ensure that you will follow the advice given to doctors — “First, do no harm”.

Implementing an effective corrective action means fixing the problem, without causing new problems.

This may involve ensuring that the fix can be implemented fully; that the fix corrects the problem; and that (here’s the tricky part) if you remove the fix, the problem comes back.

Why is this the tricky part?

Imagine this: “Ummm, boss, I think I’ve found the cause, and so I ran a test and the defect disappeared.

Now, I’m going to remove the fix and produce bad parts again, just to be sure…” Yah, that conversation will really happen…

So, you take your data, analysis, pilot studies, etc. and select and implement the best fix for the situation.

The ‘best fix’ may involve some other analysis, like down time, training, costs, resources, etc. to get the best fix for your organization, so remember to be aware of other factors that can impact implementation.

Once this fix is in place, monitor results to ensure that the fix worked, and that there were no adverse results.

If so, congratulations!