Posted 02 January 2011 by Chris Farmer
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Advanced Management Training: Causality
You will sometimes need to identify the causes of an event. If something fails, you need to identify the causes of the failure. That can be a complicated issue because most situations have multiple causes.
Today, I want to show you a model to help you to identify causes.
How to find out why something happened
Causality is defined as: The study of the logical relationships that exists between events.
There are four distinct kinds of causes:
Learn this list:
- Material cause
- Formal cause
- Efficient cause
- Final cause Let us look at each one and define them.
The Material cause
The Material cause refers to the nature of the things that act. I.e. what a thing is made of.
For example, you could say the sofa burned because it was made from non-treated foam, contrary to regulations.
When thinking about the material cause, you are looking at the substance, the chemistry, the materials involved in the event.
We do that because all things must act according to their particular physical properties and chemistry.
The formal cause
Formal cause is the way a thing is constructed, formed, patterned or organised.
The formal cause looks at issues of design, of form.
Example: You could say that the bolt sheered because the design of the walkway was such that the strain on the bolt exceeded its tolerance.
You might say that the aircraft was hijacked because the design of the interior aircraft door allowed access to passengers onto the flight deck.
The Efficient cause
Makes reference to the immediate power, condition or event that, given the preceding.
Material and Formal causes, could then be a "trigger" for the event under consideration.
The efficient cause is the obvious cause, which is almost self- evident, but is not, on its own, a full description of causality.
The window broke because the car drove into it.
The car was damaged because John put diesel fuel into it, not unleaded.
The Final cause
The final cause is the human motivation factor, or human error factor
The final cause is the motive or purpose that was in mind.
The twin towers disaster was caused by the terrorist's desire to injure America by striking at the most symbolic targets.
The car was damaged because John was trying to phone text his wife, whilst at the same time refuelling the car.
Whenever you need to analyse an event, you will need to break it down into categories, or classes, so that you can think more logically. Try using these four classes as the basis for your analysis.
You can use a mind map diagram
You can make four lists You could draw a fish-bone diagram.
Use whatever way is best for you.
Why did the Titanic sink?
- Ship was made of steel/iron
- Calm sea
- Bulkhead of limited height
- Plates were riveted
3: Efficient The titanic struck the iceberg which tore a hole in her side.
4: Final There was a desire to break crossing record
The reason for learning this is so you can be more methodical and systematic.
Which is always helpful.
For more information about advanced leadership and management training courses visit the Corporate Coach Group website.