Cause and Effect Cain (CEC)

What is the root cause?

First, we should understand what the root cause actually is. In our vision, the root cause is not necessarily the fundamental reason for the problem. We like to split the definition into two reasons:

  1. Fundamental Reason of the Problem (FRP) – this is the original source of the problem. Addressing this reason usually does not change the current situation, but may help with it in the future.
  2. Auxiliary Reason of the Problem (ARP) – any reason in the chain of events that if removed the current problem will be solved, but there is a chance that the problem will occur in the future.

Root cause analysis in PRIZ Innovation Platform

PRIZ Innovation Platform offers two instruments for root cause analysis: 5+ Whys and Cause & Effect Chain. Both of these tools have a slightly different approach to the analysis.

Cause & Effect Chain

Cause and Effect Chain (CEC) analysis is performed by answering the question “Why?” allowing the creation of chains and branches to cover all possible directions for the reasons that may cause a problem. The result is a tree displaying the causality between different components or events.

Besides being a thinking and brainstorming tool, the CEC analysis is an excellent way to learn how the system operates. CEC is recommended for the very beginning of the problem investigation.

Some examples for what CEC can be very useful for include:

  • Excursions (deviations):
    • Safety issues
    • Sudden production yield drop
    • A sudden substantial increase in the number of defects
    • Unpredicted reliability issue
    • etc…
  • Projects to resolve/reduce chronic problems:
    • Continuous safety improvement
    • Insufficient production yield
    • High cost of the production
    • New products and services development
    • etc…

In some cases, CEC can also be used for problem definition; therefore, the investigation process can start from failure. The example of CEC analysis is shown below. The problem under the investigation is “Product cost is too high”:

How it works

Step 1. Login to the Innovation Platform and Open a project

Step 2. Describe your failure (disadvantage) and define the problem to solve

Step 3. Navigate to the “Creative Tools” tab and click “+NEW”

Step 4. Choose “Cause and Effect Chain” from the list of available tools by clicking the button “+ ADD TOOL”

Step 5. Start to create the Cause and Effect Tree by dragging