Monthly Archives: June 2010

Collective Knowledge


Collective knowledge resulting from different points of view has no boundaries as long as we open our minds to all the possibilities both inside and outside our perceived normality. In a progressive society, normality is the obstacle, and sustainable prosperity results from having no perception of normality at all. Hence, no limits, and infinite potential is within your grasp!

A by-product of the natural law is the one word question “WHY”. What we have been in the past, what we are today, and what we will become in the future is empowered by the answer to “WHY”.

Change can only fuel the engine for a short distance, to dream beyond the future is the perpetual fuel……

Collective knowledge begins with YOU!


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Root Cause Analysis System for Problem Solving and Problem Avoidance

RCA Pietro Savo

At home or on the job, the multiple projects and tasks we manage usually operate in less-than-perfect mode, with errors, mistakes, or problems cropping up. But contrary to popular wisdom, failure does not build character… it only wastes time, effort and money.

Problems typically evolve into costly crises not because of one individual’s actions, but because the person or organization failed to establish a process or an environment that aided clear decision-making to avoid the problem from occurring in the first place.

Root cause analysis is a methodology for problem solving and problem avoidance that can be taught to anyone, anywhere, anytime. Those who practice it recognize how to solve less-than-perfect situations quickly and efficiently.

Root cause analysis transforms an organizational culture that reacts to problems to a new culture that solves problems before they escalate. This method allows organizations to significantly reduce the costs associated with errors, and reallocates these resources to more profitable (and enjoyable) activities.

Problem avoidance is the responsibility of everyone in your organization and your life: From the CEO, to the floor sweeper, to family and friends. Root cause analysis obtains its energy from people who observe, who question. Once all those in your organization understand the variability, the solution, and the process improvement, mistake proofing is around the corner.

How does one learn to apply this skill? First, it’s necessary to learn how to recognize the root cause of a problem, and then take appropriate actions to prevent the recurrence of the problem or failure. Second, one learns to recognize and address the warning signs or symptoms of a problem even before that problem manifests itself. The real cost savings comes from becoming a problem anticipator. Root cause analysis training transforms an organization’s culture so that it can avoid the failure all together.

Unfortunately, sometimes things fail and a fundamental failure of a process happens and can be a sum of many processes combined into one result. Historically, our effort or function has performed without a flaw, and then something called process variability worms its way into our project, function or life. We then find ourselves scrambling to meet deadlines, satisfy our boss, make delivery and be competitive.

Story-time: My front right tire on my new auto became flat because a roofing nail became imbedded in it. My first pass at conducting root cause analysis led to the nail being the root cause of the tire failure. However, it was not, because the cardboard box that held the nails had collapsed. My second guess was that the failed box caused the tire failure. But this was not the root cause: The roof leaked during a rainstorm, the box got wet, and it collapsed because of the weight of the nails. The fundamental failure was caused by the leaky roof. Until we eliminated that condition by fixing the roof, we would continue to witness some sort of failure.

Our current culture teaches us to march forward, allow for error, hope for the best, and re-work the product if it doesn’t come out right. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Historically, operation budgets have allocated an extra 15 to 25 percent to pay for failures, rejection, waste, and the human resources to make things right. To avoid these resource-draining activities, I teach organizations to recognize and address variability as it occurs. For example, the person nearest to the problem will already understand the solution. He or she may already be making adjustments in the process to make it work. Unfortunately, these adjustments are seldom documented and disappear when the key person leaves that shift. This is called the hidden factor.

Another common scenario: Someone may have noticed a change in the process, and did not think it was important. Others may have observed that the change was so gradual that it seemed insignificant until a failure or problem occurred. Variability or change should become a red flag to begin investigating.

Even simple SPC (statistical process control) is a reactive process. Root cause analysis cannot be applied until one has collected enough data. By that point, the process may have already experienced problems and incurred unnecessary costs.

Root cause analysis can mean the difference between keeping and losing your customer base. Customer perception is a very difficult thing to measure until the customer’s perception of your organization is so poor they stop buying your products or using your services or…drinking your milk. My oldest son drank sour milk on two separate occasions. To this day, he will not drink milk. The root cause seemed simple enough: My wife always saves the sour milk for baking; she even labeled the container sour. However, my son was only three years old and had not yet learned to read. He’s 15 years old today and he still won’t drink milk. What happens if one of your sour milks escapes to your customer? Your customer may not want to drink your milk again and find something else to quench their thirst. For this important reason, problem avoidance social training becomes an essential necessity!

It is a proven fact that most of the failures and problems that plague industry are chronic. This means that they happen more than once for the same reason. Furthermore, out of all of the chronic failures that a company experiences in a given year, 20 percent represent 80 percent of the loss. If you investigate the 20 percent of the failures representing 80 percent of your losses, you will reap quantum benefits in a short period.

I recently spoke with a manufacturing manager who had to scrap 300 parts. I asked him if they had identified the root cause. He said “no,” the problem went away on its own. Problems never go away unless you clearly identify the fundamental root cause and remove it from the process.

Successful organizations create a mindset that actively looks for change, for variability in a process. Within these organizations, every employee understands how to identify the warning signs of process deviation as part of their reality and part of their job. Their employers encourage them to raise a red flag early on so that it doesn’t cost to fix errors at the end. Companies that thrive and compete will instill these values, creating a culture driven by change and fueled by energized people.

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When the business leader chooses not to learn from past business case studies!

Future Manufacturing -

When the business leader chooses not to learn from past business case studies, or these business leaders do not have the training means to learn from past business case studies. The mindset for learning, now is significantly reduced the businesses’ ability to employee teaming and continuous improvement strategies can never occur there. What does occur are merely business leaders waiting for the pendulum to swing in the other direction, and hope for positive change for the best?

This characterizes leaders whom prefer to wait-and-see called the island-mindset culture. The island-mindset culture philosophies are simple, dig in and wait long enough, everything will be back to better productive times “sooner-or-later”.

In business what is clear,
those who wait are always late, late for market entry,
late for business growth and typically early for going out of business.

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United States Manufacturing Industry Pitfalls & Potholes

Future Manufacturing -

The United States manufacturing industry has become so political correct, that the market changes that are needed for the United States to compete in the world markets has corrected the United States right out of the market. What this means is that we as a manufacturing nation have failed to ensure that political correct does not stop our own industry from advancing forwards, resulting a significant loss in technology and manufacturing jobs.

Dickson and Czinkota’s published a study called “How the United States Can Be Number One Again: Resurrecting the Industrial Policy Debate (Dickson, 1996)”. The hypothesis surrounding the benefits from engaging in technology, educating resources, and the suggested by-product is, reducing your business limitations. The scope of this study compares lessons learned from experts of the Industrial Revolution of the 1830s to the decline of the United States manufacturing superiority of the 21st Century. This study focused on improving manufacturing industry capacity and capabilities; based on the existing literature and actual field experiences. This study from 1996 had some historical bearing, and this lesson was not a new lesson; but a lesson learned about 160 years ago (Dickson, 1996).

Combine the history lesson with the negative effects of NAFTA, the industrial foreign trade policy that favored out-of-country sourcing, it is not a wonder why the effects have been so devastating to the United States manufacturing industry. NAFTA backfired and better supported the 50 years of the strategic industrial growth policies of Japan, Korea, Taiwan, China, and Malaysia to protect their industries, invest heavily in manufacturing process research and employee education , subsidize R&D investment, this strategy represented the complete opposite which occurred in the United States. What is clear the United States manufacturing strategy is like driving into the same pothole; those making the rules pull over and change the tire, and forget to repair the road?

In Samir Gibrara’s (1998) article called “Pitfalls, potholes, and acceleration for the global future.” Driving the same pothole is significant because it explains that the industry has failed to learn from their mistakes, a symptom that needs identifying, and reversing.

A sustainable solution is documenting and sharing best practices throughout the United States business and manufacturing industries. As the concept of a globalization gains acceptance and momentum, the highway to the future will have an occasional pitfall and pothole as well. Our challenge is to avoid creating additional potholes as we hasten to our goals (Gibara, 1998). Our goals should focus on having a United States’ buy American philosophy First and the hell with politically correct!


Dickson, P., Czinkota,M. (1996). How the United States can be number one again: resurrecting the industrial policy debate. The Columbia Journal of World Business Fall 96(31), 76-87

Gibara, S. (1998). Pitfalls, potholes, and acceleration for the global future. Area Development Site and Facility Planning.

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