Posted by: JC Gatlin | October 19, 2009

Point of Cause: The Snoring Story


Point of Cause can be a difficult concept to grasp, and it’s often confused with the actual problem. The problem is waste. It’s a deviation from standard (or the norm). The point of cause is the physical time and/or location the deviation is occurring.

Here’s an exercise that illustrates this concept very clearly:

Let’s say that I snore very, very loudly. In fact, my snoring is so loud that it keeps my next door neighbor awake all night. He can’t sleep. Now, what’s the problem and what’s the point of cause?

The problem is my neighbor can’t sleep. His standard is sleeping at night, but he’s deviating from that norm. In fact, if this were a PDCA, he’d be the one to initiate it.

But wait — why isn’t my very loud snoring the problem?

The answer: Because I sleep just fine, thank you. If it wasn’t for my neighbor being kept awake, no one would care that I snore. If no one cares, where’s the problem?

If we apply the Because Equation to this (The problem occurs BECAUSE of the point of cause), we’d say, “My next door neighbor can’t sleep BECAUSE of my snoring.”

Once the snoring is identified as the point of cause, you can break it down into root causes. Why am I snoring? I need to lose 10 pounds. Or, I have a deviated septum. Or, who knows what the root cause would be. But at least now we can find it.

© October 2009 Homebuilding Partners, Inc.  twitter-logo



  1. […] Lean Homebuilding Just another weblog « Point of Cause: The Snoring Story […]

  2. […] Point of Cause: The Snoring Story « Lean Homebuilding […]

  3. […] 3. The goal statement tests the validity of the problem statement. A strong goal statement is practically a mirror image of the problem statement – they are twin sentences with a few minor word differences. If they aren’t, there’s a problem with the problem statement. And, the PDCA isn’t ready to move on to the point of cause yet. […]

  4. I am frequently looking for brand-new informations in the WWW about this matter. Thx!!

  5. […] goal statement, data collection (which graphically illustrates the problem then breaks it down to a Point of Cause). It also includes problem investigation, which includes brain storming, a fishbone & 5-Why […]

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