Module 6: Root Cause Analysis – Ask Why?
When we tackle problems in business or personal life, we have a tendency to go after symptoms and not root causes. Root Cause Analysis is a method used to figure out these underlying reasons for a problem. However, it’s not used only when there is a problem or challenge, but also when thing are going well. When your business is strong, it’s good to discover the source of this strength so that you can repeat or reinforce it.
A Root Cause Analysis is based on asking ‘why’ multiple times until you discover the source.
Root Cause Analysis starts with identifying the problem or challenge. An example of a challenge could be that your client has failed to achieve their goal of doubling the size of their list in the past three months. Ask the client why this is so and keep asking why until you get to the root cause.
To take the above example of the client trying to grow their list, an analysis might go something like this:
- Why didn’t I double my list? Because I didn’t know which strategy would work best
- Why didn’t I know what strategy to use? Because I haven’t tried enough different ones
- Why haven’t I tried different ones? Because I’ve been focusing my time on product creation
- Why have I focused on product creation? Because I don’t have other people to do it well
- Why don’t I have people to do it? Because I haven’t spent time to find outsourcers
- Why haven’t I spent time finding outsourcers? Because I don’t really trust others to create the product
When you finally reach the root cause, a solution presents itself to you. In this example, the solution would be to overcome the client’s trust issue by setting up a reliable process for outsourcers to use in creating products. Overcoming trust issues may entail things like establishing an interview process for hiring help, setting specific quality standards, and effectively training content creators.
In Root Cause Analysis, the solution isn’t always to remove the root cause. It may be that a slight change somewhere along the way would produce the desired outcome or remove the obstacle. The important thing in Root Cause Analysis is to see the process of cause and effect playing out. You then know which factors can be changed to affect other factors.
It helps a great deal to diagram your analysis and visually represent it. The client can then easily see how each factor affects each other. In the above example, they may choose to focus less on product creation and invest more time in exploring other strategies. They may choose to take some of their daily time away from creating info products to try out different list-building methods.
In addition to using Root Cause Analysis in your coaching sessions, you can also teach a client how to do it on their own. This is a valuable business skill that everyone should have and it can also be used for problems in your personal life.