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Cause and Effect Diagrams - Find the Root Cause

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 280

A cause and effect diagram represents the relationships of causes and effects of a problem in business process through visual display. It also points the defects in a business process. These diagrams are mainly used to come to an agreement for solving problems in a Six Sigma project so that the project can run smoothly. They are mainly applied during the improvement and measurement stages of Six Sigma strategy.

It is not complicated to build or draw a cause and effect diagram of your own, once we know the step by step procedure to build it. This paragraph explains how to build this diagram. The initial and main step is to find the problem. The problem can be identified quickly by using Pareto analysis technique. Then the problem can be placed in a box in the diagram. This box serves as main "effect" at the head. A line is then drawn to the right of the above mentioned box and this line produces the traceability from the causes to the effect under investigation. The next step involved in this diagram is to draw lines diagonally from left to the middle line which represent deeper causes of the effect. Here the main causes of the problem are displayed on diagonal/slant lines.

To stress more on root cause, one can mark them in particular so that their teams can focus more on this issue during their brainstorming sessions. This is crucial so that one does not miss the action items which need more priority and attention first. The general cause areas which host problems in a business process are sometimes known as the 5M's - machines, material, management, manpower and methods. These causes are the most common ones used by individuals. One may find the same causes mentioned in the diagrams repeatedly until they are completely sorted out. To successfully think through the problem using a cause and effect diagram, one needs to be open to take opinions from others, as this is much of a teamwork activity. By involving others, it not only makes your diagram more accurate but also helps in the sharing of information with those who are affected by it.

It is recommended to draw at least a single cause and effect diagram for each six sigma problem being investigated. This will help in identifying the root cause of each more conveniently and easily. Also, it can become more complicated if you try to mention every problem in your work area in one diagram. Care should be taken to mention specific and exact causes rather than just mentioning the general concepts. The diagrams should be precise such that it serves its purpose and the data acquired should be clear enough to share with others. An effective cause and effect diagram with exact problem and accurately assessed root causes can lead to the success of six sigma process.

Steve Wilheir is a process management consultant and C-level executive coach. If you liked learning about root cause analysis using the cause and effect diagram, you might want to check out Steve's site on the cause and effect diagram at

Source: EzineArticles
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