Finding Solutions

By ThinkReliability Staff

Once you’ve finished your root cause analysis, determined what the causes of a given incident are and built the Cause Map, now comes the really important part: how do you make sure it never happens again?  To keep an incident from happening again, an organization needs to implement solutions. The first step to implementing solutions is to find possible solutions.  We do this by brainstorming.  The brainstorming process is made easier by the root cause analysis, because instead of finding a solution for “person falls down stairs” we brainstorm solutions for very specific causes, such as “stairs were wet” and “handrail doesn’t extend far enough”.  There are many different methods for brainstorming, but the important point is: don’t discount any suggestions.  Write them down, and move on.  We’ll sort through them later.  Attach the solutions to the causes they control (for example, a solution to “stairs were wet” is “cover stairs from exposure to rain”).  Some causes won’t have any solutions, and some solutions will appear on more than one cause.

Have a wide variety of personnel available for brainstorming.  Sometimes it’s easier for someone farther from the work to see potential solutions, and sometimes the people who do the work every day will have great suggestions they’ve been waiting to bring up.  The more suggestions, the better!  Sometimes a seemingly crazy suggestion will lead to a very practical solution.  Allow people to add on to others’ suggestions.  This can result in a synergistic solution better than the original suggestion.

Once the brainstorming is complete, you’ll have a list of possible solutions.  There are as many ways to select solutions as there are to brainstorm, but I suggest something like the following.  First, make a list of the solutions.  Rate the effectiveness of each solution at preventing similar types of incidents (from 1 to 10, 1 being not very effective, 10 being very effective).   Then rate the ease of implementing the solution (from 1 to 10, 1 being not very easy to implement, 10 being very easy to implement).   Multiply the two together for each solution’s score.  Then, rank the solutions.  The solutions at the top will give you the most “bang for your buck”, or are the most easily-implemented, effective solutions.