Kaizen Kit

Root Cause Analysis

Root Cause Analysis is a structured method of problem solving for identifying the root causes of problems or failures. Some of the most practical and common Root Cause Analysis techniques include

In KaizenKit it is more common to use Root Cause Analysis techniques as part of different workflows, including Failure Reporting, CAPA, Nonconformance, A3 Report, 8D Process and others.

Learn about the fundamentals of kaizen, how it improves quality and productivity, and how you can successfully drive continuous improvement in your organization.

Published 31 Jan 2023

What is Kaizen?

Kaizen is a Japanese term which means “good change”, “change for the better”, or “improvement.” As a philosophy, kaizen promotes a mindset where small incremental changes create an impact over time. As a methodology, kaizen enhances specific areas in a company by involving top management and rank-and-file employees to initiate everyday changes, knowing that many tiny improvements can yield big results.

Kaizen’s roots can be traced back to post-World War II, when economic reform consequently took over Japan. Since the Toyota Motor Corporation implemented the Creative Idea Suggestion System in May 1951 , changes and innovations led to higher product quality and worker productivity, substantially contributing to the company’s development.

In September 1955 , Japanese executives officially started visiting the United States as one of the initiatives of the Japan Productivity Center. Integrating the American way of doing business with a humanized approach eventually pushed Japanese companies into worldwide competitiveness. During the 1980’s , management consultant Masaaki Imai worked with Taiichi Ohno to spread the message of the Toyota Production System (TPS), a result of several years of continuous improvements.

Considered as the Father of Kaizen, Masaaki Imai globally introduced kaizen as a systematic management methodology in Kaizen: The Key to Japan’s Competitive Success (1986) . Today, organizations across different industries adopt kaizen as a part of their core values and practice continuous improvement on a day-to-day basis with concepts from six sigma and lean . It is also used with other analytical frameworks such as SWOT . 

“Kaizen is everyday improvement—every day is a challenge to find a better way of doing things. It needs tremendous self-discipline and commitment.”

– Masaaki Imai, Founder of Kaizen Institute

Implementing kaizen in the workplace can be near impossible because management usually expects immediate results. Companies often miss out on improved work procedures and optimized business processes which yield a corporate advantage due to focusing too much on results. To maximize the benefits of kaizen, the following elements and principles should be clearly understood before applying them in your context.

Management Commitment

One of the most common reasons kaizen implementation fails is the lack of support and, more importantly, action from leaders. Imai states, “The top management of the company has the most important role in implementing this kaizen approach, and then every manager, then it goes down to rank-and-file employees.” When top management demonstrates its long-term commitment to continuous improvement, managers inevitably follow through on kaizen initiatives and workers personally develop a kaizen mindset.

Employee Empowerment

The employee doing the job would know the best ways to improve how a job is done. Leaders should create an environment where people feel empowered to contribute so that suggestions for improvement can come from all levels and ranks. Encouraging workers to keep adding value to the organization not only boosts morale, it also gives everyone ownership of continuous improvement efforts, which contributes to the successful implementation of kaizen.

Achieving operational efficiency begins where the actual task happens, not from a conference room. A Gemba Walk —derived from the term gemba or gembutsu, which means “the real place”—is usually performed by managers to learn or review exactly how a specific process works and gain insights from workers about its improvement. Gemba Walk Checklists guide the observers in asking relevant questions to determine the root cause of problems and the next steps.

One of the biggest barriers to continuous improvement is clinging to old practices or assuming new methods will fail. The 5S principles aim to enhance workplace efficiency by constantly looking for ways to eliminate waste. Organizations should refrain from thinking that just because something worked before means it will continue to work. The 6S of lean added safety to 5S, emphasizing the setup of preventive controls for safe work operations.

“Progress cannot be generated when we are satisfied with existing situations.”

– Taiichi Ohno, Father of the TPS — the basis of lean manufacturing

Since kaizen is a step-by-step process, the journey of effectively implementing it can only move forward by asking the right questions. Learning the key elements and core principles of kaizen sets up the organization for success because it lays the foundation of how results should be expected. Here are key guide questions to help you get started (and keep going) with continuous improvement initiatives in the workplace:

kaizen process

What is the root cause of the problem?

How can we address the root cause of the problem?

Are changes being carried out consistently, by everyone, and in all areas?

What impact do our continuous improvement efforts create?

How else can we keep improving?

“There is nothing that can’t be done. If you can’t make something, it’s because you haven’t tried hard enough.”

– Sakichi Toyoda, Inventor of the world’s first non-stop shuttle change automatic loom

A kaizen blitz, or kaizen event, is a short-term improvement project designed to accomplish significant results in process management and quality issues. Kaizen events focus on improving a specific area of the company, such as a business process department of 50 employees.

As a short-term approach with visible benefits within weeks, a kaizen blitz enables project management teams to easily obtain a high level of commitment from the people involved and maintain the interest of top management. Conducting a 5-day kaizen blitz can set organizations in motion to intentionally build a culture of kaizen, but it should not replace implementing the kaizen cycle .

5-Day Example:

Before the event.

During the event

After the event

“Long-term commitment to new learning and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation. The timid and the fainthearted, and the people that expect quick results, are doomed to disappointment.”

– W. Edwards Deming, Author of Out of the Crisis (1986)

Create Your Own Kaizen Checklist

Eliminate manual tasks and streamline your operations.

It takes a long-term commitment of consistently doing incremental changes in daily operations to maximize the benefits of kaizen and create a  standard quality of work . Improved quality , productivity, and safety through kaizen management in the workplace results in increased employee morale, customer satisfaction, and company revenue. Taking advantage of smart technology can help organizations easily manage day-to-day continuous improvement efforts and consistently solve problems with cost-efficient solutions.

Embracing kaizen as a way of improving work quality sets up the organization for operational excellence. Since small incremental improvements yield big results over time, begin (or continue) your kaizen journey today with these kaizen rules in mind. Let Toyota’s Founder encourage you: “Before you say you can’t do something, try it.”

Free Kaizen Tools for Teams

Easily implement and monitor continuous improvement efforts using mobile-ready kaizen tools.


SafetyCulture Content Specialist

Jona Tarlengco

Jona Tarlengco is a content writer and researcher for SafetyCulture since 2018. She usually writes about safety and quality topics, contributing to the creation of well-researched articles. Her 5-year experience in one of the world’s leading business news organisations helps enrich the quality of the information in her work.

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Lean in hospitals, business, and our world

Kaizen Tip: Just Do Its and Root Causes

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

In the Kaizen process, we ask everybody to identify problems (or opportunities) and then to write down an idea that could potentially solve the problem (or at least solve it to some extent). 

What's written down on the card (or submitted into KaiNexus software ) is the starting point for discussion within a team and/or with a supervisor.

When coaching an organization on Kaizen recently, I got a really good question from a physician who had taken the excellent week-long Lean healthcare training at the University of Michigan . She said that, in the Lean training, they said you should never “jump to a solution” in the course of problem solving. She raises a good point.

Many of the problems identified and brought forward through this Kaizen process don't require any root cause analysis. That might sound shocking. Isn't Lean all about “the 5 whys” and root cause analysis? Sure, where it's needed. Root cause analysis happens a lot in Lean.

Some relatively problems, “Our IV trays are disorganized” have a somewhat obvious solution, “Organize the trays and remove unneeded items.”

We can just fix the trays and then recognize those who did so, share the idea with others, and then check back to see if the idea really worked and if it was sustained.

Some problems are more complex, such as “Patients are waiting too long in the waiting room.” We couldn't really jump to a simple solution there. We'd want to do root cause analysis and maybe manage this through an “A3 problem solving process” or something more rigorous like a “Rapid Improvement Event” or a longer-project.

Or, we can break a bigger problem down into smaller pieces, taking care to not sub-optimize anything.

As Kaizen leaders, we learn how to triage things that are submitted through the Kaizen process. It this idea an easy “just fix it”? If so, we can have a bias for action and test ideas experimentally, in the PDSA approach. If it's a more complicated problem or something with a non-obvious solution, we can start an A3 or get a Rapid Improvement Event sponsored.

This can all work together. We can't oversimplify everything, nor should we overcomplicate everything.

A similar contrarian thought is that not every improvement needs to be a formal “Rapid Improvement Event.”

What do you think? Please scroll down to post a comment or share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn .

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kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

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kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

According to Daniel Kahneman, jumping to solutions is advantageous if: 1. the solution is likely to be correct (i.e., the answer is fairly obvious), 2. the environment is predictable (low variability) and 3. the penalty for being wrong is small.

When jumping to a solution, the study/check process in PDSA/PDCA becomes paramount. Despite our best efforts to assess a situation, the things we believe should be obvious just aren’t sometimes. Better to study/check thoroughly than pay the price later.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

Yes, I usually recommend that if a proposed solution/countermeasure is small, inexpensive, easily testable, is not risky, and easy to undo (low penalty for being small), then the bias should be for quick action AND following up.

We can’t just Plan-Do or Do-Do, we have to remember to Study and Adjust to close the loop. Otherwise, we’re just randomly doing stuff.

Kaizen can have a bias for action, but can be disciplined and systematic (without being bureaucratic).

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

Mark, This is a very good point. You do want to solve the symptom but know the root cause of the issue first. Leaders are pressured in getting results that they miss going through the process on fixing the issue permanently. Now, I always advise clients to make the decision based on what the data is telling them before they go out and start fixing issues. The response in many cases “what data?” That is where they need the most help in creating a process that helps capture the right data to make an informed decision on which issues have the most impact. During the process there will be issues what will be considered ” quick fixes” as long you can quickly identify the root cause. Thanks for sharing .

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

I like Joel’s filter above. Plan to use on Monday with a new group. Additionally, why do we want every employee to be a problem solver? My answer is we want everyone engaged and then we want the benefits of actual improvement. Focus on engagement first. Rigorous RCA is often an extra burden, especially for the newbie. After folks are engaged, then focus on structured problem solving including RCAs. My personal experience is that you can have an engaging and meaningful kaizen system without RCA, but the ideal is to get to RCA thinking in the end.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

I find table 9-3 in Gemba Kaizen very relevant here. Mr. Imai divides problems into three categories according to their nature, then he estimates their respective percentages and gives some example:

Type A: Causes are clear Countermeasures can be taken immediately (70-80%) examples: Standard was not followed, out of spec materials and supplies.

Type B: Causes are known but countermeasures cannot be adopted (15-20%) example: Occurs at the time of setup adjustment; example 2: Occurs during frequent stoppages of equipment.

Type C: Unidentified causes (10-15%) Example: Situation suddenly went out of control

I like it because it gives a clearer picture on what to expect in a workplace.

Thanks Sami

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

I love this conversation! As a coach, I’m always looking to improve my skill at helping our folks find the sweet spot between analysis paralysis and jumping to solutions.

I agree that we can harness our people’s bias for action by accepting the just-do-it approach in the right situations….as long as the PDSA mindset is being utilized. It doesn’t even have to be a formal PDSA cycle using standard templates or anything, so long as the individual is pursuing the just-do-it in a scientific method-like manner.

Regardless of whether an idea falls into the “just-do-it” or “requires deeper RCA” category, there’s another factor at play, and that’s the question of whether the improvement effort is a step toward something or simply a stand-alone improvement. A stand-alone improvement that is not connected to any goals/plans/strategies/visions/etc. is still highly valuable just for the way that it engages our people and teaches them skills. But if that same improvement effort was connected to a bigger challenge, it becomes much more meaningful to both the individual and organization.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

The example you use:

Some relatively [simple] problems, “Our IV trays are disorganized” have a somewhat obvious solution, “Organize the trays and remove unneeded items.”

Has an implicit “why” in there, i.e. “Why are our IV trays disorganised?” It could be that they have never been organised so the solution is as above. But it could be that there is a method for organisation and people aren’t following it, which begs another why: “Why are people not following the method?”

I suppose my point is that, especially at the beginning of learning improvement,it is sometimes useful to slow down, just a little, and for coaches to tease out the implicit “why?” even when it looks like there is an obvious solution. Mainly because it will stand people in good stead for more complex situations.

That’s a great point. Asking “wny?” once might be a helpful question, but that’s still not a formal root cause analysis.

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kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

The A3 problem-solving tool is a bright example of how problems should be treated to be eliminated efficiently. Scroll down to learn more about A3 and how to use it.

5 Whys: The Ultimate Root Cause Analysis Tool

Gemba Walk: Where the Real Work Happens

A great part of our daily work routine is actually related to solving problems. Either small or big, problems are an inevitable part of our workday. However, if you decide to act fast and remove a problem as swiftly as possible, you may face the same issue repeatedly.

Instead of fighting only the symptoms, you need to dig deeper and discover the root cause. By doing so, you will be able to protect the work process from recurring problems. This is where the A3 methodology comes into play.

Implementing an A3 problem-solving tool is a bright example of how problems should be treated to be eliminated efficiently. Based on some simple steps and ideas, the model gives directions on dealing with problem-solving issues through simple structuring, good collaboration, and active communication.

What is A3 Thinking?

First of all, let’s briefly touch upon the mindset that A3 thinking aims to develop. It can be summarized in 7 elements:

Origin of the A3 Problem-Solving Tool

The A3 report is one of the many Lean management tools developed as part of the Toyota Production System (TPS).

There isn’t a single inventor of the A3 reporting method. In fact, Isao Kato (former manager at Toyota) describes it as a hybrid between the PDCA cycle and Toyota’s philosophy to make things visible.

There is also a legend that Taiichi Ohno often refused to read further than the first page of any written report. This is why the A3 is a one-page report.

The name A3 comes from the European A3 paper size corresponding to 11-inches by 17-inches or 29.7cm x 42cm.

A3 thinking played a major role in Toyota’s commercial success. Consequently, it became a widespread tool, now used in various industries.

Let’s explore the A3 problem-solving tool in detail.

Foundations of the A3 model

Actually, A3 is just a single report that will not help you solve problems like a magic wand. It is much more important for all involved parties to be dedicated to the process and communicate actively.

Before you begin with the formation of your own A3 reporting method, you need to be familiar that there are 3 major roles in the process:

The owner is responsible for managing the process and maintaining the document. On the other hand, the owner needs to be advised and supervised by a mentor experienced in problem-solving.

The mentor’s role is to give directions and provoke the problem owner to find the solution, but not to give answers and propositions.

Last but not least, there are responders or stakeholders. They are the third party, which is directly interested in the final results of the A3 project.

Here is the challenge. Usually, there is a wide variety of stakeholders involved. The problem owner needs to have access to all of them if needed.

However, we all know that it is a bit difficult to reach higher management in organizations with a strict hierarchy.

This is why the whole organization should be familiar with the concept of lean thinking and be prepared to assists at any time. Sometimes this is challenging, but it can show how flexible an organization really is.

At the end of the day, the active communication between all parties involved is crucial for the success of any A3 project.

The A3 Report

The A3 report is a single-page document, which reflects the results of the whole process. Usually, it contains seven steps, but it may also have other variations. Below you can find an A3 report example, which most often will include the following steps:

a3 report

Current situation

Set targets/goals, root cause analysis, countermeasures.

The A3 Process

The A3 methodology is a lean thinking process where the problem owner should go through the model's different steps until there is a proper solution to be implemented. The owner needs to communicate actively with his colleagues and the mentor of the project.

Let’s now examine the different steps that comprise the A3 process.

First of all, you need to clarify the problem and briefly describe it. This is a starting point where the owner can add context and support the next steps.

Before a problem can be addressed properly, the problem owner needs to describe the current situation in the area where the issue appears.

At this stage, you can map the different processes that exist around the problem area. It will allow you to see the bigger picture and identify the root cause.

After the current situation is clear, you need to set goals. Keep in mind that at this stage, you need to take into consideration that you don’t have  the full picture .

So after you go through the remaining steps until “effect confirmation,” you can come back to this step and add more details to the initial goals.

This is a significant step from the successful implementation of the A3 process. Trying to fight the problem immediately means that you are only treating the symptoms while leaving the root cause untouched. This way, a problem may appear regularly in bigger proportions.

Therefore, once you have a good understanding of how the processes work and the initial goal, you need to figure out the root cause of the problem. For this purpose, you can use different techniques such as  the 5 whys .

Once you are familiar with the root cause, you may start offering solutions. From here, you can go back to the initial goal and add more details. In all cases, the countermeasures should lead to a clear understanding of how the initial goal will be achieved.

Implementation Plan

After setting the countermeasures, you have to present an implementation plan that includes a list of the actions that will be applied to get the countermeasures in place. It is also helpful to assign responsible individuals for each task and a due date.

Effect confirmation & Follow-up

The last step is crucial for establishing a culture of continuous improvement . It is imperative to measure the actual results and confirm the effect of your countermeasures.

Whether there are positive or negative results, you need to take action.

If the actual results differ from the predicted ones, you should modify the plan, re-implement it, and follow-up.

If there is a positive effect, you should communicate improvements to the rest of the organization and ultimately make them a standard.

Benefits of A3 problem-solving

The A3 model is consistent, and it encourages mentoring and overall collaboration.

Furthermore, it promotes the cross-organizational sharing of information and encourages learning and continuous improvement on every organizational level.

Also, the A3 methodology encourages commitment to common goals and strengthens the levels of responsibility.

Last but not least, you can use an A3 report not only for problem-solving but also for proposing improvements, reporting, coaching, and others.

Try Kanbanize for free

A3 is a useful problem-solving tool that has some significant advantages:


Start your free trial now and get access to all Kanbanize features.

During the 14-day trial period you can invite your team and test the application in a production-like enviroment.

Lean: Problem Solving Tools, Kaizen & A3

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Kaizen News

Why Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis is a Great Tool

Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis

Making Improvements with Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis

When things aren’t going the way they should, it can often be quite difficult to identify what is actually causing the problem. Despite the fact that it can take a lot of work, root cause analysis is extremely important because of the fact that it will allow you to not just cover up issues, but actually address them directly.

In many cases, this will allow you to make significant long term improvements to your facility. With that in mind, all facilities should have a method of digging into problems to discover the root cause. For a growing number of facilities, this methodology comes right from their existing Six Sigma strategies.

What is the Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis Strategy?

Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis

In reality, you may have to ask yourself (or your team) why only once or twice or far more than five times. The important thing is to make sure you are asking the right questions and that you don’t stop until you get to the actual root cause of the problem.

Before you ask yourself ‘why’ at all, however, you need to clearly define the problem. The Six Sigma standard suggests that you write it out so that you and the entire team have a single point of focus when working on the issues. This will help you to avoid getting distracted when performing this root cause analysis.

To get a concrete idea of how this could work in a normal, everyday situation, follow this simple example. If you are driving home and your check engine light came on, you might run through a Six Sigma root cause analysis to figure it out. First, you define the problem statement, which might be, “Your vehicle is operating, but the check engine light has come on.” You would then begin asking why?  For example:

o   A) Because the serpentine belt came off. *You can confirm this by looking under the hood or seeing if other systems that rely on this belt are impacted.

If you determine that this is not the root cause of your problem, you will move on to the next why:

o   Because I have not changed the oil in eight months. *Again, confirm this by checking the oil levels or taking it to a mechanic.

If you find that this is the cause, you will still need to continue asking why, since the oil not being changed is not the root cause:

o   Because I forgot to schedule the oil change.

o   Because I stopped using my calendar app on my phone

You now know that the root cause to your engine light is actually the poor organizational skills and a failure to use the proper tools to help prevent these types of things. As you can see, by getting to the root cause of this issue, you actually likely avoided a variety of other problems in the future (related to the root cause of poor scheduling and organization).

Of course, you will have to take steps to fix the problem, but once you have identified the root cause, that won’t be difficult at all.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

Keeps the Focus

One of the biggest benefits of the Six Sigma root cause analysis system is that it helps to ensure that everyone working on a problem stays very focused. It can be tempting for many people to get off topic and start looking into potential issues that aren’t related to the actual problem at hand.

While this can be beneficial for discovering other issues, a root cause analysis session is not the right time for it. By continuing to ask ‘why’ based questions, it allows you to keep moving forward in the investigation.

Easier to Identify the Actual Root Cause

Another major advantage to this system is that it is much easier to know when you have reached the actual root cause. When you can’t think of any more ‘why’ questions that make sense to ask, that almost certainly means that you’ve reached the root cause.

Some people may be tempted to keep finding and asking these questions (as you can always ask why) but when it is clear that all the questions being asked aren’t actually helping to drive toward a root cause, the process is over. You can then find where the questions ended, and that is the root cause.

Finding the Solution

Floor Marking Shapes

In a way, the whole process of finding the actual cause of issues is actually going to be preparing you for the problem resolution as well. This will allow the problem analysis and investigation to go much more quickly, while also being more effective.

For example, if there is a safety issue where there are frequently accidents or near misses in an area where there are frequently people walking as well as high-low’s driving, you can use this method to ask several why questions, to which the answer may lead to the fact that there is no easily identifiable difference between where people should be walking and where vehicles should be driving.

Once you get to this conclusion, you can quickly realize that adding floor marking tape that clearly distinguishes where vehicles need to drive will solve the problem. You can also determine whether or not it is necessary to use color coding for this, or even using floor marking shapes for further benefits.

The bottom line with the Six Sigma root cause analysis strategy is that it will help you to more quickly determine what exactly is causing the problem, while at the same time coming up with a solution. It is well structured and can be effective for nearly any type of problem imaginable.

Additional Resources

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Problem Solving

09. Oct 2018

Problem Solving



The humming sound of the AC compressor was penetrating the deafening silence in the Kaizen™ Promotion Office. The closing presentation or Report-out session is going on. The teams have just concluded their presentations on Breakthrough Kaizens they have done during this week. It is the time for the CEO to record his remarks and observations.

The CEO stood up and greeted the team, “50 PPM..” and the team replied, “2020” – an unique way of greeting and reminding their goal to be achieved in days to come. He went on, “.. friends, be clear that practicing Kaizen™ will never be stopped in our Organization, because I want each of you to go back home on time and this is possible only if you all practiced Kaizen™. Having gone through your presentations, I would like to say that I get a worse feel of Déjà vu. To me it seems, we have been there already. These problems were attended earlier and resolved but surprising is that they are coming back. We are good at removing them but not keeping them away from coming back….”

Precisely, this is the concern in every organization.  Problem solving is perhaps, a phrase quite often used in the daily life of every Corporate Organization. It would not be an exaggerated statement if it is expressed that few of the Quality Problems in any Organization are as old as the Organization itself! In general, if one observes it closely, it would be clear that it is the same problems which are lingering around from time and again in the organization. The Leaders might be claiming that they have solved the problems thoroughly however, one would find these problems keep resurfacing back! In most of the cases, the list of problems remain the same over years. Quite rarely one would find new problems cropping up.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

The leadership team, whenever finds that a particular issue is proving to be a thorn in the flesh of the organization, would launch a special drive to tackle it. Special task force teams will be formed, much attention will be paid, lots of work would be done, at times, external consultants would be engaged too to support the organization solving these problems. Obviously then, as expected, the problems would be resolved

however, the irony is, they keep coming back after some time. Waste (defect) is removed but not kept away from coming back.

One has to keep in mind that whenever they address to the quality problems, the five Golden Rules of Gemba

The term, “Problem solving” remains same but the methodologies vary, for example, 8-D, A-3, QRQC, Six Sigma, Differential Diagnosis, 7 QC tools etc.,  The Organization should adapt the one that suits them the most or that suits their team the most. Or they can also develop one of their own with best practices from one or combination of the methodologies available.  

It is a bitter truth that almost in all Indian Organizations, Quality team holds the responsibility of the Quality issues although they are produced by other teams. This mindset should change. The Quality and the pace of Problem solving will get badly affected if all the functions are not actively involved in the problem-solving process. Another blunder which the organization does is to ignore the value-adders in the problem-solving process. They can contribute in a better manner than others as they are the ones with direct contact to the processes. People are not problems but they are problem-solvers says Kaizen™. It has to be kept in mind while forming the problem solving team to involve members from cross functions and to have value-adders as core-members.

Once the methodology is frozen to be adapted and also the team members are chosen, now it is the time for the members to be trained on the methodology opted. The capabilities of the members need to be developed as to get the right results from the projects which will be carried out. Training does not mean only class room trainings. On-Job-Training, brainstorming sessions on the day-to-day problems faced, collaborative root cause analysis also enhance one’s capabilities. Post-training, the members can be evaluated and certified, if required. The team members should be allowed to work on problem solving on a daily basis as to get their skills updates constantly.

What is measured is improved. This goes well with monitoring too. Any performance when monitored closely, yields improvement. Making the metrics visual increases the pace of improvement as it keeps hitting the eyes of one and all in the organization and acts as a reminder on what needs to be done on a real-time basis. A well-designed metrics chart displayed near the Gemba helps this.

Natural problem solvers are not easily available. One has to develop them. Apart from providing training, motivation is the key to develop Natural problem solvers. It also comes by practice. Unless we tracked our process every day looking for problems (or looking for opportunities to improve), we cannot develop this competency. Motivation need not necessarily be monetary rewards – recognition too helps.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

What we learn from history is, we do not learn from history. Quite often the problems do repeat because we fail to standardize the improvements we have made while resolving a problem. Or in other words, we are not recording the learning. We cannot do Kaizen™ if we do not standardize. Proper recording of the history is the key. Courtesy, technological advances, we can have the history recorded on a real-time basis with proper MES and saving in the cloud. Creating a OPL library is pivotal. An Organization should initiate a Knowledge bank of problems faced and solutions implemented by means of creating a One-Point-Lesson Library. This would help in communication across the tiers of Value-adders, team-leaders, cell-supervisors and Managers from time and again. This OPL library can be used as an Induction Manual too. Whenever a problem is occurred, the team can refer to the last solution that was implemented. 

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis


Building Problem Solving culture in an organization would take time. The Senior Management team needs to provide adequate resources to the problem solving team and keep at it for a medium term to ensure a good Problem solving culture is implemented.

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kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

Root Cause Analysis in Kaizen Lean


Why Why Analysis or 5 Whys is a well-known root cause analysis technique that originated at Toyota and has been adopted by many other organizations that have implemented lean manufacturing principles.By repeatedly asking the question “Why?” at least five times, you can successively peel away the layers of symptoms, which can lead to identifying the root cause of a problem.

The 5 Whys was originally developed by Toyota founder Sakichi Toyoda and was later used within Toyota Motor Corp. during the development of the Toyota Product System (TPS). At Toyota, 5 Whys is still a critical component of problem-solving training, and the method is still widely applied within the company when problems occur. The architect of the Toyota Production System, Taiichi Ohno, described the 5 Whys as “… the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach… by repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”1

Solving problems means identifying the root causes of a problem and then developing and implementing appropriate countermeasures that are designed to eliminate the root causes and prevent their recurrence. Root causes are to be distinguished from causal factors. Causal factors are those factors that contribute to the occurrence of a problem, but are not necessarily the initiating cause of a problem—the root cause. Therefore, causal factors and chains need to be analyzed further to determine their root causes. A robust problem-solving method must be adept at not only identifying a problem’s causal factors, but equally adept at uncovering the root causes that underpin the causal factors.

A major advantage to the 5 Whys technique is that it is relatively easy to use and apply, and its easy application makes it a practical tool for root cause analysis in problem solving. Under a 5 Whys approach, it is possible to get to root causes in a relatively short period of time. However, as we shall see later on this article, ease of use and speed also need to be balanced with the risk of failure from recurrence of the problem should the 5 Whys fail to find the true root cause.

While many companies have successfully used the 5 Whys, the method has some inherent limitations, which can be resolved. First, using 5 Whys doesn’t always lead to root cause identification when the cause is unknown and Gemba investigation and causes verification is not done. Second, an assumption underlying 5 Whys is that each presenting symptom has only one sufficient cause. This is not always the case and there can be multiple root causes of each cause. Third, the success of 5 Whys is to some degree contingent upon the skill with which the method is applied; if even one Why has a bad or meaningless answer, the whole procedure can be thrown off. Doing Why Why Analysis requires a lot of practice and as long as focus is on Facts, Validating each cause at Gemba, 5 Why analysis is simple yet powerful approach.

Even Toyota has admitted some shortcomings with the 5 Whys method. Teruyuki Minoura, Toyota’s former managing director of global purchasing, commented at the 2003 Automotive Parts System Solution Fair held in Tokyo that the 5 Whys requires skill to use well and most important, should be grounded in observation, not deduction:

“When an error occurs, the first thing that needs to be done is fix the error,” says Minoura as he recalls that Ohno used to order them to ask the question ‘Why?” five times over because “that way you’ll find the root cause, and if you get rid of that, it’ll never happen again.”

However, Minoura emphasized that on-the-spot observation rather than deduction is the only correct way to answer a “Why?” question. “I’m always struck that the five-why method doesn’t seem to be working as well as it should be because there’s been a lack of practical training,” says Minoura. “The reason is that they end up falling back on deduction. Yes, deduction. So when I ask them ‘Why?’ they reel off five causes as quick as a flash by deduction. Then I ask them five whys again for each of the causes they came up with. The result is that they start falling back on deduction again and so many causes come back, that you end up totally confused as to which of them is important.

“Through real training, you’ll be able to discover dozens of problems and also get to their root causes. You’ll be able to make dozens of improvements. If you incorporate all the accumulated knowledge of root causes that you’ve got from always asking ‘Why? Why? Why? … ’ into your equipment, you’re going to have something that no one else can come close to. I don’t think it’s got anything to do with nationality; it all has to do with whether or not you’ve received the proper training. I feel, though, that the tendency to give that kind of training and education forms the basis of Toyota’s approach to monozukuri2.”3

In these comments, Minoura is emphasizing a key point of Toyota’s approach to improving processes: Go see and observe and study the actual process conditions to develop understanding and facts (known simply as “Go and See” in TPS parlance). In many companies, problem solving is a deductive exercise, oftentimes conducted in a meeting room where those doing the problem solving are separated from the actual process where the problem occurred. This separation encourages deductive thinking that is not necessarily grounded in what is actually happening, or happened, at the process. Most important, because it isn’t grounded in observation, where effects and their causes are directly observed, deductive thinking can quickly degenerate into hypothetical thinking. Minoura’s comment about “practical training” also hints at a missing dimension in many problem-solving efforts: going and seeing what is actually happening at a process, rather than conceptually applying tools and techniques to infer what might be happening.

RIB Consulting Consultants have expertise in training your organisation to implement Root Cause Analysis as part of Kaizen journey. RIB Consulting is one the leading Kaizen Consulting Organisation in Kenya, India, Dubai and Zambia

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kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis


Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic procedure for determining the “root causes” of problems or occurrences as well as a strategy for handling them. The fundamental tenet of RCA is that solving issues before they arise is more important than merely “putting out fires” when they arise. RCA assists in identifying the causes of a problem or event.

Once the root cause has been identified, consider several options for eliminating it, removing it, or lessening its effects by taking some crucial steps. Defects must be fixed if they are to be prevented from happening again. It offers a variety of methods for figuring out process and system breakdowns that caused defects as well as advice on how to avoid them in the future.

A single intervention cannot always accomplish total prevention, according to the majority of RCA experts, who view RCA as an ongoing process that aims for constant progress.

kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis



kaizen problem solving and root cause analysis

Practical Example:

Manufacturing-Reliability Engineering as a Real-World Example

A toy company wants to develop a reputation for excellence. The business conducts accelerated life testing and pinpoints the main reason why each product fails. By enhancing designs, materials, and manufacturing techniques, root issues are addressed.

Foods & Beverage – Quality Assurance

A company that sells organic food looks into every customer complaint to identify the underlying issue. For instance, the team might request that a consumer return the remaining stock if they claim that apple juice has gone bad before its expiration date. The team investigates and finds that the beverage bottles’ lids weren’t securely sealed by a packaging machine. They can locate the machine that produced the problem by using the lot number on the goods. When the maintenance crews examine it, they find that the calibration is off. Numerous beverages have been recalled and the issue has been resolved.

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All businesses need problem solvers, and everything you need to master Root Cause Analysis and solve any problem in any industry is inside this Masterclass.

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This course teaches you how to solve problems using Root Cause Analysis and the 8D method. the 8D or 8 Discipline method is a universal, systematic method to solve problems. I've used this method for ver 20 years and teach you how to use it through an actual case study.

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Module 1: welcome and on-boarding.

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D3: Contain the Problem

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I have over 25 years of experience in Lean and Continuous Improvement in various industries including: Fortune 500 Businesses, Aerospace, Automotive and BioTech. I was taught Lean, Root Cause Analysis and Kaizen by Japanese Sensei's while working for a Subsidiary of Honda Automotive. I've used the same methods I was taught 20+ years ago to Improve Processes and Solve Problems for some of the most recognizable brands in the world! Over the course of my career, I've taught hudreds of courses including: Yellow Belt, Green Belt and Black Belt courses and I've delivered over 500 Kaizen and Root Cause Analysis Events. I also have an Engineering Degree and an MBA from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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  1. Image result for root cause analysis

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  1. (Quality science):أدوات تحديد الأسباب المحتملة 3-1(6)حل المشاكل و تحليل السبب الجذري

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  5. cause and effect diagram| fishbone|root cause analysis| improvement هيكل السمكة| Ishikawa diagram



  1. Kaizen Problem Solving and How is it Different from that of ...

    Kaizen brings in the difference - with two-layer root cause analysis. At the first level, the team brainstorms for all possible cause. In the second level, they brainstorm, they stratify...

  2. Root Cause Analysis

    Root Cause Analysis is a structured method of problem solving for identifying the root causes of problems or failures. Some of the most practical and common Root Cause Analysis techniques include Fishbone Diagram Five Whys Fault Tree Analysis (FTA) FMEA Pareto Chart

  3. Root Cause Analysis in Kaizen Lean

    Solving problems means identifying the root causes of a problem and then developing and implementing appropriate countermeasures that are designed to eliminate the root causes and prevent their recurrence. Root causes are to be distinguished from causal factors.

  4. Kaizen: Meaning, Process, Method, & Principles

    A kaizen blitz, or kaizen event, is a short-term improvement project designed to accomplish significant results in process management and quality issues. Kaizen events focus on improving a specific area of the company, such as a business process department of 50 employees.

  5. PDF KAIZEN Step 3: Root Cause Analysis

    - It is aimed for prevention of possible problem not yet occurred. - It is also aimed to identify factor to be control. It does not need to ask why-because question 2. Fishbone diagram for Problem Solving - It is aimed to find root causes of problem already occurred - It is developed based on data and information obtained from Step 2

  6. Kaizen Tip: Just Do Its and Root Causes

    Many of the problems identified and brought forward through this Kaizen process don't require any root cause analysis. That might sound shocking. Isn't Lean all about "the 5 whys" and root cause analysis? Sure, where it's needed. Root cause analysis happens a lot in Lean.

  7. Root Cause Analysis

    The Root Cause Analysis Process RCA has five identifiable steps. Step One: Define the Problem What do you see happening? What are the specific symptoms? Step Two: Collect Data What proof do you have that the problem exists? How long has the problem existed? What is the impact of the problem?

  8. Eight Steps To Practical Problem Solving

    Step 1: Clarify the Problem Step 2: Breakdown the Problem Step 3: Set the Target Step 4: Analyze the Root Cause Step 5: Develop Countermeasures Step 6: Implement Countermeasures Step 7: Monitor Results and Process Step 8: Standardize and Share Success The Toyota Way To Problem Solving

  9. A3 Problem-Solving: Fight the Root Cause

    Root cause analysis This is a significant step from the successful implementation of the A3 process. Trying to fight the problem immediately means that you are only treating the symptoms while leaving the root cause untouched. This way, a problem may appear regularly in bigger proportions.

  10. Lean: Problem Solving Tools, Kaizen & A3 Flashcards

    Study with Quizlet and memorize flashcards containing terms like 7 common tools for root cause analysis, Cause-and-Effect Diagram: Ishikawa or Fishbone, Check/Tally Sheets and more. ... $35.99/year. Lean: Problem Solving Tools, Kaizen & A3. Flashcards. Learn. Test. Match. Flashcards. Learn. Test. Match. Created by. McKenzie_Hatton. Terms in ...

  11. Why Six Sigma Root Cause Analysis is a Great Tool

    One of the biggest benefits of the Six Sigma root cause analysis systemis that it helps to ensure that everyone working on a problem stays very focused. It can be tempting for many people to get off topic and start looking into potential issues that aren't related to the actual problem at hand.

  12. Describe problem solving and root cause analysis..docx

    View Homework Help - Describe problem solving and root cause analysis..docx from ENG 601_7289_7 at Weston College. Contributing to the application of continuous improvement techniques (kaizen) 1.

  13. Kaizen Blog

    Root-cause Analysis of the problem, listing of counter-measures, validating & implementing; Standardisation of the improvements made; The term, "Problem solving" remains same but the methodologies vary, for example, 8-D, A-3, QRQC, Six Sigma, Differential Diagnosis, 7 QC tools etc.,

  14. Root Cause Analysis in Kaizen Lean

    Solving problems means identifying the root causes of a problem and then developing and implementing appropriate countermeasures that are designed to eliminate the root causes and prevent their recurrence. Root causes are to be distinguished from causal factors.

  15. What is Propblem Solving?

    Problem solving is about getting to the root cause (root cause analysis) of a problem so that it never occurs again. Flow Chart Map sequence of steps and decisions into boxes and diamonds, with arrows showing the flow of the steps. Make a process visible, find common ground in definitions.


    Introduction: Root cause analysis (RCA) is a systematic procedure for determining the "root causes" of problems or occurrences as well as a strategy for handling them. The fundamental tenet of RCA is that solving issues before they arise is more important than merely "putting out fires" when they arise. RCA assists in identifying the causes…

  17. Root cause analysis

    In science and engineering, root cause analysis (RCA) is a method of problem solving used for identifying the root causes of faults or problems. It is widely used in IT operations, manufacturing, telecommunications, industrial process control, accident analysis (e.g., in aviation, rail transport, or nuclear plants), medicine (for medical diagnosis), healthcare industry (e.g., for epidemiology ...

  18. Problem Solving

    Kaizen does it by way of: a) field a team of Kaizen consultants to actually do the problem solving for the client; b) create a cross-functional team (CFT) problem solving team composed of consultants and client's people; c) provide direction to client on the process of problem solving. Our involvement covers problem identification, root cause ...

  19. Kaizen Leap: root cause analysis

    Showing posts with label root cause analysis. Show all posts. Showing posts with label root cause analysis. Show all posts. Wednesday, 12 September 2018. Human Mistakes - What are they??? Human errors are caused by human beings & can be defined as "An inappropriate action or response by a person which gives an undesired or unexpected outcome ...

  20. Root Cause Analysis Masterclass

    Get to the Root Cause of Any Problem ; Easily Define a Problem in 7-Simple Steps; Discover the 1-Key Step that Guarantees the Root Causes; Learn how to use Fishbone Diagrams and 5 Why Analysis; Understand Hypothesis testing for problem solving; Learn the 5-Principles for a Lean Process; Discover how to Improve Using Theory of Constraints ; Pro-Tips on how to win over and engage the Kaizen team

  21. The 5 Whys Explained

    In this video, we explain how to use The 5 Whys technique to find the root cause of a problem.We also look at:- The advantages and disadvantages of the model...

  22. Root Cause Analysis, Second Edition

    Root Cause Analysis, Second Edition The Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action Duke Okes. Softcover, 232 pages, Published 2019. Dimensions: 7 x 10 inches. ISBN: 978-1-63694-083-. Item Number: H1610. Member Price: $ 42 List Price: $ 60 *I have read and agree to the ASQ Sales Return Policy. Please proceed with checkout.

  23. Root Cause Analysis : the Core of Problem Solving and Corrective Action

    Select search scope, currently: catalog all catalog, articles, website, & more in one search; catalog books, media & more in the Stanford Libraries' collections; articles+ journal articles & other e-resources

  24. Fundamentals of Root Cause Analysis and Problem Solving

    The Root Cause Analysis (RCA) and Problem Solving Training will introduce participants to various RCA tools that can be used in the workplace. From the simple Five Why's Method, to Fishbone Analysis, to the more technical Cause-Effect Analyses (and more!), this workshop will allow participants to use these tools in prescribing solutions to ...

  25. Root Cause Analysis The Core Of Problem Solving And Corrective Action

    Root Cause Analysis The Core Of Problem Solving And Corrective Action Author: blogs.post-gazette.com-2023-03-03T00:00:00+00:01 Subject: Root Cause Analysis The Core Of Problem Solving And Corrective Action Keywords: root, cause, analysis, the, core, of, problem, solving, and, corrective, action Created Date: 3/3/2023 7:42:45 AM

  26. Krystal Bowlsbey, LSSMBB 屢

    • Provided problem solving training to assist with proper root cause analysis in order to ensure effective CAPAs and the closure of deviations. ... • Leader and super coach of Kaizen events to ...