By confirming your root causes, you ensure you're focusing on the issues that, once resolved, will lead to success. You don’t want to spend time solving perceived problems only to find out later that the time, money and effort spent had no effect.

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Root cause theories are still only theories, even after refining them with the 5 Whys. So before acting upon them, you need to confirm that they are real. Root Cause Confirmation is the way you determine if they're real.

For each root cause determined with the 5 Whys, a hypothesis statement will be generated, which essentially says that changing or eliminating the root cause will change the value of your Goal Statement measure.


How Do I Confirm Root Causes?

Now for the challenging part – how can you know if it’s true? One way is to manually intervene or experiment in the process, temporarily eliminating or neutralizing the root cause. Then, if you see the desired difference in performance, that can help confirm that the root cause is real.

There are two common approaches to confirming if the root causes are real.

  1. With data, look for a clear difference in your Goal Statement measure before and after acting upon the root cause. Data is the best way to confirm root causes because it confirms and tells you the impact of that root cause and how much improvement you may achieve by fixing that root cause. While this is the best way to confirm root causes, sometimes it can take considerable time and may be challenging to obtain the data.

  2. With observation, you essentially see it happening. While data is the preferred method to confirm hypotheses, sometimes using observations is beneficial when the suspected root cause is observable and consequences are visible.

Note that it's not sufficient to simply confirm the root cause exists. You need to verify that the root cause is causing the undesired performance! If you find that the root cause does not exist, then it's definitely not a root cause!

If it’s evident that the difference is meaningful, you’ve confirmed the root cause. If there’s no difference or only a minimal difference, the root cause is not confirmed. Repeat for each of the root causes you’ve chosen.

In some cases, there’s a single dominant root cause. If it confirms, you’ve completed this Step.

Often, there are multiple root causes. If enough root causes confirm to achieve the needed improvement, you’ve completed this Step. If no or insufficient root causes confirm, go back to the Fishbone Diagram and look for more to test.


Kure leads you through Root Cause Confirmation.

  • First, your potential root causes are auto-populated into the Root Cause Confirmation tool from your 5 Whys analysis.

  • Then, enter a complete description in the Root Cause Hypothesis column. This description should indicate how the cause produces or adds to the problem.

  • Next, consider why you believe the potential root cause to be true or false and select your answer in the Results column.

  • Lastly, describe the evidence that confirms this result and enter it in the Verification column.

It’s that simple! Once you address all your root causes and determine which are real, you're ready to move to the What’s My Solution step.

Kure guides you through each step in creating Root Cause Confirmation by asking simple questions and providing guidance along the way. Powered by our Process Optimization Path™ (artificial intelligence), Kure will help you and your teams collaborate to complete process improvement projects together.

Ready to confirm root causes and start improving?

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