Why did the disaster happen? A Root Cause Analysis (RCA) lesson for Business Analysts

We sometimes get so engrossed with the activities & techniques of Business Analysis that we forget to stop and think about the real impact we are making to organisations or the people around it.

customer experience
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

root cause analysis
Photo courtesy: Renato Danyi, Pexels

Every solution begins with a problem or challenge. That’s where it all starts for the role of a Business Analyst. 

Every problem has an underlying cause, if you believe in causality as opposed to the faith that everything is prefabricated, pre-planned. Exploring and understanding the root cause is a big piece of the work that a BA have to do, before even they delve in to explore solutions and define  requirements. 

The Root Cause Analysis (RCA) is a three step process that involves:

  1. Stitching together snippets of facts, figures, evidences and statements to form a complete story of ‘what might have happened’.
  2. Understanding the causal or contributory factors in the sequence of the story that evolved into the problem.
  3. Formulating the relationship between those factors to spot the underlying/root causes, supported by facts and evidences.

All the tools and techniques you might have learnt are just part of the above steps.

To understand how important and intricate this root cause analysis activity can be, let me point you to this poignant video of a horrific disaster that still looms in the mind of millions of people even after decades.

You must have heard about the incidence that took place in Bhopal, India in 1984? I am referring to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Estimated 10,000 people died, though official figures were much less. Half a million people carried on the suffering. Even to these day, women miscarries significantly more than rest of India. Many of next generations carry genetic disorders. 

What happened on that fateful night? How did such a heartbreaking disaster happen and more importantly why did happen? Was anything done about it?

Well, it was much about money, power and politics at the expense of human lives. Familiar story but an deeply interesting one.

Save a quiet hour (and a corner) for yourself and watch this video to feel the tragedy and at the same time learn about how the root cause analysis process works. Think of the three steps I mentioned above. Watch from the Analyst’s perspective. Do comment what you learnt!

The Bhopal Gas Tragedy 1984, India

Warning: don’t watch if you are soft-hearted.

If you want to learn Business Analysis or get better at it, contact me to discuss your ambition and your challenges. May be together we can detect what’s actually stopping you and find a solution. I live in LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ujjalghosal/ and breathe in the Facebook Business Analysis Interest Group (BAIG)

Here are some touching images of the disaster, if you have nudged your curiosity by this sad and shameful incidence.

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