Cause and Effect – Connecting the Dots!

Posted by on May 28, 2011 in Lean Six Sigma, Problem Solving | 0 comments

I recently had a couple of issues at home that were really frustrating.  The first was a rattle in my car that would suddenly appear at about 50 mph.  The noise was coming from the console, near the radio.  I took it to the dealer, they charged me $65 to look at it and told me that they basically didn’t find anything wrong but had tightened everything up and it appeared to fix it.  Within a few days, I heard the rattle again.  I took it back to the dealer and the technician and I went for a ride.  He was able to hear the rattle also.  About 45 minutes latter, he came into the waiting area and showed me a part that had broken in my rear-view mirror.  He told me that he noticed my windshield had been replaced and I told him that a stone had chipped it and I had it replaced.  Funny thing, thinking back, it was replaced just before the rattle started to occur.
The second problem was the outside light on our garage.  The light was set to come on at dusk and go off at dawn.  When it didn’t come on one night, I replaced the bulb.  Everything seemed fine, but again the light did not come on that evening.  I went back out thinking maybe I didn’t screw the light in tight enough.  The light came on, but within a couple of minutes it went back out.  If I shook the fixture, the light would come back on, but within a few minutes it would go out again.  We had replaced the outside light fixtures about 3 years ago, so I didn’t think the problem was in the fixture.
The next day I checked the connections and re-wired them.  Again that evening, the same thing happened.  I started playing with the settings, thinking maybe the photo-eye was defective, or a switch had failed.  After a week or so playing around and not getting anywhere, my wife bought a new fixture.  I installed it, thinking that this would solve the problem, but again that evening, the same thing.  Again, I shook the fixture and the light would come on for a few minutes and then go out.  I began to think the problem was in the wiring behind the wall and maybe a rodent had chewed through the wire.
That night, I thought before I tear into the wall, I’ll change the light bulb again since it is an easy thing to check.  I put it in and to my surprise the light remained on and didn’t go out.  The problem was a defective light bulb.  My assumption was that since I had replaced the original bulb with a brand new one, the new one must not be the problem.  It goes to show you that even new products can be defective.
The point of these two frustrating problems is that they both occurred as a result of a change.  Changing the windshield caused the part in the rear-view mirror to be damaged and changing the original light bulb in the garage light caused the frustration with the fixture.  Sometimes we fail to get a quick solution because we’re not able to connect the dots from cause to effect.

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