This month’s Harvard Business Review has an article highlighting one of the most fascinating emerging trends in quality improvement: that a “root cause” exists may be a myth. As healthcare QI/QA moves towards eliminating errors and improving metric-based performance, the increasing obsession towards solving a quality problem is laudable but sometimes misguided.
This excellent HBR article focuses on reframing. In short, what you say after discovering a complex problem is important. Before saying “Let’s start making a pareto chart and collect some data!” try inserting a 30-second pause with, “Is that the right problem we should be solving?”
Without spoiling the fun of reading the article, try thinking through this issue before reading – You have received multiple complaints about the speed of your building’s elevators. How would you address this problem?
In fact, the very idea that a single root problem exists may be misleading; problems are typically multicausal and can be addressed in many ways.