Root Cause Failure

In one of the finest aircraft ever developed for the U.S. Military, a troubling issue has emerged with potentially lethal outcomes.  The F-22 Raptor is the most technologically advanced fighter jet ever conceived and has recently been plagued with a troubling oxygen delivery issue that results in hypoxia for the pilots.  A past workshop participant (thanks John L.) learned of the issue from 60 Minutes and shared it with us.  Watch the 60 Minutes piece “The Raptor” now.

 Most troubling is that the root cause still has not been identified and a couple of the pilots have done a virtually unprecedented act of “going public” with their concerns.  In the story, you’ll note a few things that we see happen frequently in corporations that experience problems including:

  • Overly focused on gathering more and more data in the hopes the cause will emerge.
  • Implementing patches that either create new problems or fail completely.
  • Insufficient focus on the changes that could create the problem.
  • Lack of commitment to truly understanding the root cause of the problem.

Can you find examples of each of these in the news story?  How does this compare to the root cause analysis process inside of your own organization?  Are you providing effective problem solving training to ensure your people are doing an effective job of isolating root cause?  Perhaps the products and services you provide don’t have life and death consequences but this story provides valuable lessons to be learned and applied inside your organization. 

If you were tasked with solving this problem, what would be your top 3 questions?

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