Originally published August 31, 2017.
I recently attended a conference where I listened to a presentation on Human Performance Improvement (HPI) by Dr. Todd Conklin and other speakers advocating Dr. Conklin’s ‘Learning Team’ approach. This was the first time I had heard Root Cause Analysis (RCA) referred to as ‘old school’ and obsolete. This got me to thinking, given I have been in the RCA business for decades, is what I do for a living…obsolete?
In this paper I will contrast the concept of Learning Teams as expressed by its advocates, to that of RCA Investigative Teams from my perspective. I am not speaking for all ‘RCA’ providers, as they vary widely and can better represent themselves (which I hope they do in response to this article). However, I believe there are fundamental steps to any professional investigative occupation that are required in order for an RCA to be ‘valid’.
In the end, I will seek to answer the following questions:
- How does the HPI community define and view RCA versus me?
- Do these two approaches complement or compete with each other?
- Is there room for them to work together to accomplish a common goal?
It is my hope that after reading this paper, both sides have a greater appreciation for the views of the other. Since my expertise is not in facilitating ‘learning teams’, this paper is primarily focused on defining my holistic, non-traditional view of RCA. I am then contrasting that view against what I have come to know about learning teams. It is the constructive, fact-based debate I seek to narrow the gaps in my understanding between the two approaches.
About the Author
Robert (Bob) J. Latino is former CEO of Reliability Center, Inc. a company that helps teams and companies do RCAs with excellence. Bob has been facilitating RCA and FMEA analyses with his clientele around the world for over 35 years and has taught over 10,000 students in the PROACT® methodology.
Bob is co-author of numerous articles and has led seminars and workshops on FMEA, Opportunity Analysis and RCA, as well as co-designer of the award winning PROACT® Investigation Management Software solution. He has authored or co-authored six (6) books related to RCA and Reliability in both manufacturing and in healthcare and is a frequent speaker on the topic at domestic and international trade conferences.
Bob has applied the PROACT® methodology to a diverse set of problems and industries, including a published paper in the field of Counter Terrorism entitled, “The Application of PROACT® RCA to Terrorism/Counter Terrorism Related Events.”
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