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Quality Creates...Perspective

An Open Corrective Action Assigned to my Daughter

Tim Lozier
by Tim Lozier on Fri, Oct 19, 2012

PDCA kidsPerhaps I've been working in the Quality Management and Environmental Health and Safety Management arena way too long, so much so that it's come to this.  I was sitting in my house over the weekend, and let down my guard for a little bit, and my lovely youngest daughter wreaks havoc upon the household.  She has a knack for this type of thing - you turn your back for an instant and she's covered in markers, given the a cat haircut, or painted the walls pink.

Anyway, I got to the point where my professional life just about merged with my personal life.  After witnessing another household infraction caused by my diminutive employee, I thought about issuing her a Corrective Action.  I spend my waking moments 5 days a week speaking to people about Risk Management, Quality Management Software, Environmental Management, and Corrective and Preventive Actions.  It's only logical that the thought entered my head.  Fortunately, I didn't actually jump into my software system and issue the plan, but then I thought it would be fun today to actually play this thing out.  So, here's my open Corrective Action, assigned to my daughter.

Part I:  Problem Identification:

Location: Our House, My Daughter's room  Priority:  Normal
Department:  Safety, Quality, and Sanity of Daddy  

Subject:  Potential Safety Concern over Working conditions of the Bedroom

Description:  It was observed that the employee (daughter) was left alone in her bedroom for a period of 5 minutes to no more than 15 minutes.  During this period, said employee engaged in activities that endangered the safety of her fellow employees, the potential destruction of company property and personal effects, as well as causing her manager (me) to accumulate several more gray hairs as a result of the action.  Enclosed is an image of the resulting environment change from these actions:


Containment:  Upon realization of the condition and overwhelming safety concerns, we immediately removed the employee from the situation, before anymore damage could be done.  A hazmat team (my wife) then went in to assess if there were any chemical spills or organic waste present ("OK did she spill her juice, and is there a grilled cheese shoved into one of her books?").  Once contained, we were able to continue to conduct our investigation.


Part II: Root Cause Analysis

(Incidentally, I feel like I'm always conducting ad-hoc root cause analysis with my children - "why did you put sand in your hair?"  "Why is the cat in the mailbox?" "Why did you hit your sister?"  Of course the investigation usually results in a resounding "I dunno" - not much to go on.  So, we'll try and formalize this here as best we can.)

Performed By: Daddy Root Cause Category: Operator Lack of Training

Root Cause:  Upon further investigation, it was determined that the employee had been looking for a specific toy, the Pink Tiger known as "Pinky".  Pinky was not in her usual spot, so the employee continued to search throughout the room till it was found.  Pinky then needed her friend, the Pink Panda, also known as "Pinky".  So in order to find a friend for Pinky, the employee continued to dig through the "inventory" to find both Pinky and her friend Pinky.  The result was a complete disarray of the room.

The root cause stems from a lack in process training on how to organize the room in such a way that provides an efficient identification and access to relevant "equipment".  It was determined that Pinky and Pinky need to be organized with other plush animals, and the operator needs better training on how to organize her personal inventory.


Part III: Corrective Action

Action Type: Training Project Assigned: My Daughter
Subject:  Process Improvement of Cleaning Room Due Date: 5:00pm today

Corrective Action: In order to ensure effective organization of the work environment, the following action steps will be executed by the assigned:

1.  The Employee will undergo an extensive training plan (held by me) on the value of putting things back where you found them, and not leaving toys out when you are not playing with them.

2.  The Employee will then proceed to create a checklist of tasks that need to be complete before she can play with her toys:


3.  The employee will create an inventory system that promotes an improvement on her current process.  In other words, animal toys go with other animal toys and so forth.


Part IV:  Verification, Effectiveness and Improvement Timeframe

Performed By: Daddy and Mommy Timeframe: weekly for the next 6 months

Verification Effectiveness: Upon further training, the corrective actions put in place will be checked weekly to ensure the proper procedures are followed and ensure that there is no longer a lapse in a systemic issue.  Incentives of a $1 per week allowance are put in place to maintain a salary for the employee to continue to follow procedures.

Timeframe and Improvement Schedule:  As a further check, for the next 6 months, the organization has put in place a "coal-based incentive" to promote further adherence to the proper usage of inventory in the room, and incentive to continue to treat equipment with care and responsibility.

Translation:  Be good or Santa will put coal in your stocking this Christmas.


Of course, this is just my crazy way of thinking about things.  In your organization, the Corrective Action process is designed to drive continuous improvement for Quality, Safety and Compliance.  Corrective Actions are the lifeblood of the Compliance process - they help to identify mitigate and prevent these adverse events.  Without a corrective action process, organizations cannot be as effective in iteratively determining problems, finding solutions that not only fix the problem, but do so in a way that "sticks" and continues to mitigate risk or recurrence.

The reality of the above story went a bit more like this:

Me: "What did you do to your room?!?!?"
My Daughter: "I was looking for Pinky and Pinky, and I couldn't find them....oh, and there's a juice box and a grilled cheese somewhere in here, too."
Me: "Clean it up!"
My Daughter: "Why?"
Me: "Because I said so."
My Daughter: "Why?"
Me:  "Because if you don't, then I will tell Santa you cannot take care of your toys, and he won't bring presents anymore."
My Daughter:  "Fine. I think I smooshed the grilled cheese into the carpet just now."
Me: "(sigh)"

The moral of the story is twofold.  1.  Corrective Actions, no matter how you look at them or from what line of business, can provide a wonderful systematic method for solving Quality and Compliance issues. The key is to ensure that the proper people are involved and are focused on a Corrective Action Plan that not only looks at the most critical problems, but also uses a workflow-enabled process to solve them.  The other moral is that 2.  I really need to stop thinking about Corrective Actions at home.

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