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Focus On Root-Causes

Many solution ideas in the world are only at a Superficial Level. For instance, in trying to solve the problem of poverty, many so-called rich countries propose humanitarian aid as ''the solution.'' A more effective solution, however, is eliminating economic disequilibrium and unselfishly sharing technological discoveries while placing more emphasis on Local Capacity Building initiatives.

Another example is spending billions of dollars in conflict resolutions while continuously encouraging companies to develop and propagate sophisticated weapons.

A last example is having a willingness to promote social and technological inventions but neglecting backing up the propaganda with concrete and adapted research centres. 

Root-Cause Analysis is necessary to discover the principal causes of the challenges we face. This knowledge will, in turn, help to generate projects, ideas, or solutions which are adapted to the context. Superficial solutions are like covering a wound with a bandage.

In 2016, we conducted a Lean Six Sigma project to improve the performances of students and teachers of the LifeWayLight School in Tanzania. Many students did not perform well in most science subjects. Looking at the problem from a superficial level, many quickly assumed teaching methods were not adequate. Most of the bad performances of students were, therefore, attributed to poor teaching approaches.

When we conducted a Root Cause Analysis, we discovered there were a number of factors which cause poor performances and poor teaching approaches was the least. A few of the most pertinent were:

  • Students didn’t obtain help from their parents at home mainly because most parents were illiterates.
  • Teachers weren’t paid in time. This caused a number of grievances, frustrations, and lack of motivation. These, in turn, affected their teaching performances.
  • Lastly, the school premises was devoid of study materials and attractive settings to motivate students to learn.

We addressed some of these root causes a few months after the project. The performances of the students improved sharply in 2018. The School came 2nd out of 59 in the district, 4th out of 323 in the region, and 77th out of 6726 primary institutions in the country.

We can never solve problems effectively if we don’t deal with them from their Root Causes. And we cannot generate effective solution ideas or projects if we fail to do an appropriate Root Cause Analysis.

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