Root Cause Analysis | Kent State University

Root Cause Analysis

This is the process of investigating and identifying the deeper causes contributing to an issue.

In identifying root causes, a team will be able to:

  • Gather input from all stakeholders, creating a complete picture of the problem
  • Evaluate all possible causes in a thorough, systematic way
  • Identify the problems causing the highest impact
  • Develop specific solutions targeted to each problem

Useful tools to identify root causes:

  • Cause & Effect (Fishbone Diagram) - categorizes common causes; this is ideal for collecting input from many stakeholders and displaying visually
  • 5 Why Technique - asks "Why" multiple times until a root cause is identified; one of the simplest and most effective tools to use

Process Evaluation and Improvement can facilitate these conversations and exercises, and provide your team with the resulting documentation. Contact us at

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about the solutions.  -- Albert Einstein