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JD Solomon's Controversial Comments On Root Cause Analysis

JD Solomon’s comments at the 2021 North American Asset Management Conference were not what the audience expected. The topic was Root Cause Analysis – one of Solomon’s specialties and a service he has provided to government and industry for several decades.

"The root causes usually can be traced to somewhere in the mid-level to upper-level management chain," said Solomon. "It is much easier to blame a front-line employee or a piece of equipment. The pain has to be extreme before most organizations are ready to address the true issues."

Nevertheless, doing root cause analysis on troubled equipment or business processes is an essential component of minimizing risk and maximizing reliability. In responding to a question on whether Root Cause Analysis should be part of a written asset management policy, Solomon replied that it should be included but this was never the case. "Root Cause Analysis is usually found as part of the culture and kicks in when at certain dollar thresholds,” stated Solomon.

Asset managers were advised to follow a structured approach. Many different approaches are commercially available but the key is to find one that works for your organization. There is no magic in any of the commercial products. The good news for asset managers and their organizations is that Root Cause Analysis is really about good problem-solving. Find the structured approach that works best.

Quality facilitation was also cited as being very important. Solomon explained, “Remember that we are doing a Root Cause Analysis because there has been some major pain. No one wants to be blamed. When doing Root Cause Analysis, facilitators always deal with some participants that give vague explanations, others that blame each other, and usually at least one participant who blames the facilitator (for stirring up problems). Facilitating Root Cause Analysis is not for the faint of heart and is not for "average" facilitators."

Contact for more information on the 2021 IAM North American Conference or the FAST approach for performing Root Cause Analysis.

Report by Taylor Scott


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