Uncovering the Culprits with Six Sigma: Analyzing

By Barry Eeles

Having already defined and measured, we now begin the process of investigating the root of the matter — the “Analyze” phase. This is where we scrutinize the data and uncover the root causes behind complaints in order to find better solutions to solve them.

Beyond the Surface: Identifying Root Causes

Our goal is to move beyond the symptoms and identify the root causes in this phase. It’s about asking not just “what” but “why.” Why are customers experiencing dropped calls? Why are billing errors occurring? Why are customers leaving to a competitor?

By peeling back the layers, we gain a deeper understanding of the issues plaguing operations and leading to customer complaints. This understanding is crucial for developing effective and lasting solutions.

Fishbone Diagrams and Pareto Charts: Tools of Analysis

Two powerful tools come into play during this phase: Fishbone diagrams and Pareto charts.

  • Fishbone Diagrams (Ishikawa or Cause-and-Effect Diagrams): These diagrams help visually represent the potential causes of a problem. In the context of complaints, categories like processes, people, technology, and policies might be explored to uncover underlying issues.
  • Pareto Charts: Named after the 80/20 rule, Pareto charts highlight the most significant factors contributing to a problem. By focusing on the vital few rather than the trivial many, we can prioritize our efforts for maximum impact.

Collaborative Problem-Solving

Analyzing is not a solo endeavour. It requires collaboration across departments, bringing together individuals with diverse perspectives and varied experiences. Cross-functional teams play a crucial role in dissecting the data, sharing insights, and collectively brainstorming solutions.

These teams facilitate a comprehensive examination of the issues, ensuring that no stone is left unturned. As we identify causes, we pave the way for targeted and effective improvements in the subsequent phases of the Six Sigma process.


In this phase, we understand that identifying root causes is key to impactful improvement. The tools at our disposal, coupled with collaborative problem-solving, empower us to unravel the complexities of complaints.

How We Can Help

Contact Cartesian if you want to know more about how we can help apply the Six Sigma principals to your organization.