Knowing that an undesirable situation exists is the starting point for root cause analysis. Root cause analysis is represented as a hierarchical chart and is very intuitive. Starting from the top, let us define the structure and terminology of root cause analysis. At the top is the problem statement. The only restriction is that it must be a single problem. It must be clearly stated. Avoid jargon or terminology that might not be understood by anyone who might have the occasion to read it. The second level consists of one or more reasons for the problem. You must have the assurance that the reasons you state really are the reasons and not someone's conjecture. The reasons should be commonly accepted by the organization so that they do not need to be defended. The next several levels are "why" questions. There may be more than one why question per reason and more than one answer per why question. The answer to one why question gives rise to one or more why questions. At some point in this hierarchy an answer becomes a statement for which no further question makes sense. You might call this a cause. Figure 5.6 is a generic representation of a root cause analysis.
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