We need some industrial engineers in the .gov. If we followed root cause analysis and the 5 why examples of continuous improvement, we wouldn't have all the stupidity in the government. The following are some examples and explanations of the process. For those that havn't heard of it, the meaning and the process from wiki Root cause analysis (RCA) is a class of problem solving methods aimed at identifying the root causes of problems or events. The practice of RCA is predicated on the belief that problems are best solved by attempting to correct or eliminate root causes, as opposed to merely addressing the immediately obvious symptoms. By directing corrective measures at root causes, it is hoped that the likelihood of problem recurrence will be minimized. However, it is recognized that complete prevention of recurrence by a single intervention is not always possible. Thus, RCA is often considered to be an iterative process, and is frequently viewed as a tool of continuous improvement. Notice that RCA (in steps 3, 4 and 5) forms the most critical part of successful corrective action, because it directs the corrective action at the root of the problem. That is to say, it is effective solutions we seek, not root causes. Root causes are secondary to the goal of prevention, and are only revealed after we decide which solutions to implement. 1. Define the problem. 2. Gather data/evidence. 3. Ask why and identify the causal relationships associated with the defined problem. 4. Identify which causes if removed or changed will prevent recurrence. 5. Identify effective solutions that prevent recurrence, are within your control, meet your goals and objectives and do not cause other problems. 6. Implement the recommendations. 7. Observe the recommended solutions to ensure effectiveness. 8. Variability Reduction methodology for problem solving and problem avoidance. 5 Why analysis could be used as well The following example demonstrates the basic process: * My car will not start. (the problem) 1. Why? - The battery is dead. (first why) 2. Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why) 3. Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why) 4. Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and has never been replaced. (fourth why) 5. Why? - I have not been maintaining my car according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause) The questioning for this example could be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or even greater level. This would be legitimate, as the "five" in 5 Whys is not gospel; rather, it is postulated that five iterations of asking why is generally sufficient to get to a root cause. The real key is to encourage the troubleshooter to avoid assumptions and logic traps and instead to trace the chain of causality in direct increments from the effect through any layers of abstraction to a root cause that still has some connection to the original problem. This would never work because it actually uses common sense as a base, but it would be a far better method of policy making. It would also require the .gov to cut the fat in their organization for once. We should apply lean manufacturing principles everywhere in government.