Practical application of Root Cause Analysis to determine why you got that DNF.

So in my day job I am Lessons Analyst. Part of this job is when things go wrong, to determine the root cause of the issue. One of simplest RCA methods is the 5 Whys. Basically you act like a 3 year old and keep asking why until you have exhausted all options, this usually happens after asking why 5 times.

So lets look at why I DNF at the Club Time Trial today. Well it was because I hit that great big bump in the road and lost my visor and water bottle and then lost too much time recovering to be competitive.

But WHY did I hit that great big bump in the road? Sure I could just blame myself so for not looking where I was going, but is that really the root cause? Surely not, after all I never make mistakes on the bike. The reason I hit the bump was I was head down and under pressure to ride harder than normal. But WHY? Well instead of starting up the list, I started dead last and had to make up time. WHY? Because I punctured on the start line and and had to repair the tube before starting again. But WHY did you puncture? Well punctures usually happen when you are distracted and you ride over something sharp that cuts through the inner tube. Was I distracted? Leading up to the start line I noticed my number had come loose, it had not been pinned on properly. Clearly this distracted me leading up the start line causing the puncture.

Now sure I could just blame Cam for doing a lousy job of pinning the number on, but is that the real root cause. The question needs to be asked WHY did I let Cam pin my number on? Simply because Jim was off on holidays and was not there to pin my number on. I rely on Jim to pin my number on because he always brings me luck and I always ride better when he pins my number on.

So there you have it folks. The root cause of my DNF. Yes on the surface of it people are likely to blame me for simply not looking where I was going but clearly I have demonstrated that Jim or at least Cam is responsible for my DNF. And this is the important part of RCA and the 5 Why method. Keep asking why until you can find someone else to blame for your fuck up!!


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