Since COVID-19 is nearly all you see/hear these days I thought I might as well do my part.  Started thinking about how the response to it is related to problems organizations face when trying to do root cause analysis.  Here are some thoughts:

  • When a problem occurs the first step should be containment.  It’s unbelievable how slowly this was implemented in some areas.  My wife and I sort of do it anyway in the wintertime, avoiding flying, going to public events, etc. due to the risk of getting regular flu.
  • Some people also don’t seem to care about how they can impact others.  College students who said now is the time to take a vacation since airline+ prices are so cheap, but don’t consider the risks of infecting others when they return.  Or the idiot who got on a JetBlue flight just after being told he tested positive.
  • Some organizations have very little traceability on products/processes, which makes going back and finding causes much more difficult.  Imaging how difficult it is with COVID with people interacting/traveling all over the world.
  • Data availability and accuracy is also important, and of course some didn’t trust the early reporting from China, the maps showing infections indicate North Korea has none, and Sweden has stated they’re going to stop reporting.

The real question, of course, is whether we’ll actually figure out the original source, and whether effective action will be taken to reduce the probability of recurrence. Guess we’ll just have to stay tuned.