Non Root Cause Solutions?


    Today, I had to drive to return a rental car at Newark Airport and saw
    an example of what might be “non root cause” thinking in action. As I
    approached the airport on the highway, there were signs for three
    separate airport entrances – none of which was specified as being rental
    car return, as most airports do. I probably should have assumed it was
    the “Main Terminals” exit, but I didn't and ended up in the wrong area.

    As I was driving around the airport, I saw no signs that said anything
    about rental car return. What I did see, every quarter mile or so, was
    a giant sign that asked “Are You Lost?” with what looked like a bus
    stop. Apparently, if you're lost, you are supposed to stop your car and
    refer to the map in the bus stop. I think there was even a phone to
    call for help.

    I have never seen that at any other airport. If the Port Authority
    somehow realized the airport was confusing, I don't understand why some
    better signage wouldn't have been a better (and cheaper) solution to the
    problem. Expecting people to pull over and consult the “bus stop” seems
    like a bit much.

    How many times in your factory have you seen people create an
    overly-complex solution to a problem that could have been solved more
    cheaply and elegantly? Before relying on technology, do you try the
    “low tech” solution?

    Please check out my main blog page at

    The RSS feed content you are reading is copyrighted by the author, Mark Graban.

    , , , on the author's copyright.

    What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

    Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

    Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

    Get New Posts Sent To You

    Select list(s):
    Previous articleSome Early Toyota History
    Next articleQuality in Baggage Handling
    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. Two weekends ago I had a similar experience at La Guardia and I found that it was difficult to understand where I should be going until I got to a certain point and it became more evident. This past weekend I returned a car to Seatac and I was directed from before I got to the airport so that I would make the right choices and get to the right location. I checked here in El Paso and Rental Return is marked from before you enter the airport proper.

      Perhaps the planners of more complex issues are too deep into the issue to see the beginning clearly and should seek peer help to understand where the beginning is. Planners of less ocmplex issues can see the entire issue including the beginning and then place their markers still earlier in the flow.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.