"They always speak of my drinking, and never my thirst." It’s an ancient Scottish proverb, open to interpretation, I would contest. Many of the more cynical on the Internet show no surprise when it’s revealed that the proverb is Scottish, assuming a reference to alcohol. American punk rock band, The Menzingers, expanded their interpretation of the proverb to describe addiction in their song of the same title. In hearing the proverb I immediately thought of something known to all in the quality industry—root cause analysis.

The idea is not confined to our industry or the consumption of adult beverages. For some time in the healthcare industry—and beyond—we have heard phrases like, "treating the symptoms and not the disease."

Treating a simple headache with powerful migraine medication without some analysis of its cause is also a pretty bad idea.

Take, for instance, a headache. Common enough to all of us that if we experience the occasional headache, we take aspirin and close our eyes for a bit. Often, that is more than enough. But what if the headache persists and never really diminishes. We may big a little deeper and discover we are experiencing a migraine. Further investigation may lead—but hopefully not—to a more serious issue or to a simple analysis of our stress levels and potential triggers. Whatever the diagnosis, this information can help us manage stress, avoid our triggers, or get treatment before it is too late.

I’d be remiss if I did not also mention that treating a simple headache with powerful migraine medication without some analysis of its cause is also a pretty bad idea—the reverse of saying you can’t treat a bullet wound with a Band-Aid.

As manufacturers continue to push the envelope on cycle times, forever improve on scrap and rework, and work with more intricate and increasingly critical parts and products, ensuring our processes and equipment are uninterrupted and working correctly—and using root cause analysis to tackle the problems we know will come up—is imperative. If for no other reason than to make sure we are not putting Band-Aids on potential bullet holes.

So check out everything we have to offer in this month’s Quality, including a profile of the inaugural winner of our Quality Rookie of the Year, Jared Curtis.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!