In the practice of Root Cause Analysis, a problem is a state that occurs when there is an apparently uncorrectable mismatch between what exists and what is required or desired. In other words, we want w but we have h, and we don't know how to close the gap. This state can arise in several ways.

  1. At one time, h matched w, but then h changed.
  2. At one time, h matched w, but then w changed.
  3. Sometimes h matches w, and sometimes it doesn't.
  4. Never has h matched w.
  5. Some combination of the above.

Scenarios 1 and 2 suggest that some kind of event occurred. Scenario 3 suggests the presence of a periodic or intermittent causal factor. Finally, scenario 4 is a "day one" problem and scenario 5 is a combination. Each problem type is likely to require a different investigation strategy.

See all uses of the word problem on this site.

by Bill Wilson
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Last updated: October 4, 2014 at 13:04 pm

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