The Top 11 Signs of a Shallow Cause Analysis (SCA)

Updated: January 5, 2022

Reading Time: 2 minutes


We might be doing a Shallow Cause Analysis (SCA) if …

1. We blame and discipline the violator and that concludes the investigation. There is no attempt to try and understand the intent of the decision.

2. ‘Compliance’ is our only definition of success (not a direct correlation to a measurable improvement in Reliability, Safety, or some other meaningful bottom-line metric)

3. We don’t have time to do RCA right, so we just do it quickly

4. ‘Hearsay’ is a valid form of evidence in our analysis

5. Our team leader has something to lose or gain by the outcome of the analysis

6. Our analysis is linear and concludes there is only one (1) root cause

7. We keeping picking from a drop down list of potential cause choices, until we have reached a predetermined conclusion that is acceptable to reviewers

8. We are a one (1) person team

9. We are only using a ‘one-size-fits-all’ RCA form to complete our analysis because we feel it has a better chance of being accepted due to the format

10. We cannot quantitatively measure the effectiveness of our analysis using lagging and/or leading indicators (e.g. – quality of RCA process, use of evidence, bottom line impacts, etc.)

11. We find ourselves doing an ‘RCA’ on the same issue, over and over again (e.g. – definition of insanity?)


Do you know if Shallow Cause Analyses are being conducted at your place?

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.”

Follow Bob on LinkedIn!

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