Wednesday, February 3, 2010

28 Days To Living Organized - Day 3 - Root Cause Analysis

28 days to Living Organized

Root Cause Analysis

In the corporate world there are a lot of different techniques used to identify the root cause of issues - 5 Whys, Fishbone Diagrams, Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) - the list goes on from there.

And these all have their place. I've been known to use them from time to time when needed. In general, I think that when it comes to most problems in our homes, most of us already instinctively know the cause. But to make sure we are getting to the REAL issue, not just the immediately visible issue, we are going to employ the 5 WHYS to this problem.

It's simple. State the problem. Ask yourself why that happens. Get an answer. Ask why that happens. Etc, etc, etc until you have asked "why" 5 times. See - easy peasy.

1. Why do I have clutter on my kitchen island?
Answer - because I put things there and then never move them

2. Why do I put things on the kitchen island and never move them?
Answer - This gets a bit tricker. There could be several reasons. Among my reasons could be:
a) I'm lazy.
b) Moving things isn't a priority over other things in my life.
c) I don't have a place to put them.
d) I don't have make time to properly take care of the items.
For the purposes of this exercise, I'm going to focus on D. I don't MAKE time to properly take care of the items.

3. Why don't I make time to put things away?
Answer - Note: From this point forward, I'm focusing on the FILING & MISPLACED issues for this since those are the biggest culprits. I'll need to go back and do these same process for the ACTION NEEDED issue.
My filing cabinet is upstairs in a room that's basically off-limits to the kids because of all the computer & office stuff in it so it's too difficult to get up there and take the time to file when they are home with me (which is, um, almost always).

4. Why is the filing cabinet upstairs in a room that's hard to go to?
Answer - Because we put it there when we first moved into the house (before kids) and that spare room made a nice office.

5. In this example there is no need for WHY #5.
I've reached my root cause right there in #4. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes you need 6 or 7 whys. But 5 is usually enough.
The thing stopping me from doing my filing is that the filing cabinet is in a location that's inconvenient. Aha! I know, I know... it seems like common sense. But sometimes a process like this one can really help you through a logic road block.

Now the question is WHAT am I going to do to fix my problem? Will I move the filing cabinet? Will I give away the kids? Let's think about that overnight tonight.

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