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Contribution and Effect

Most folk are aware of the concept of cause and effect. Something happens that then leads to something else happening. I throw a ball across the room (cause), something gets broken when it is hit by the ball (effect). While there are many cases that a simple cause and effect relationship can be found (flick a lightswitch and light turns on), there are also many cases where it is not quite as simple.

Take for instance the fact that I was very tired last night. The effect is easy to see but what is the cause? Was it because I was still getting over nightshift from the week before? Was it because my body was fighting a virus of some variety? Or was it because it was the end of the day?

In this case, there is not a simple single cause that leads to the effect. It was probably a combination of the reasons I gave. If it was just one of them, then I probably wouldn’t have been that tired, but the combination that did it. This is often the case when things go wrong on a process plant. During Root Cause Analysis (RCA) studys, it is something that we often have to contend with. It is usually not just one thing that caused the problem, but multiple things that contributed to it.

Rather than a simple cause and effect mechanism, we need to look instead for contributions and effects.

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