Investigative Questions to Ask?

Below is a list of questions that can be asked on the preventative side or following a quality failure, market withdrawal, or recall. These can be used in any industry and crafted for specific or unique industries. The purpose of these questions is to gather data, ideally in advance, which will uncover the root cause of a condition that is forming or following an issue with a product defect or failure that led to product being placed on hold and subsequently destroyed.

Uncover the root cause of a condition

It is essential that these questions be asked to your direct team, but more importantly to all levels that were directly or indirectly involved with the issue. Additionally, it is critical to have these discussions with night, weekend shift, and temporary employees.

The answers are there, you just need to ask the correct questions.

  • Did the failure occur at the beginning, middle, or end of the run?
  • Were all pre-flight and quality checks conducted as required?
  • Were all operators and technicians experienced and have they been fully trained?
  • Were there any back-up, relief, or new operators or technicians that conducted the work?
  • Was there a new piece of equipment, technology, or procedure being conducted?
  • Were all operations or quality specifications or system checks in the proper range?
  • Were all SOPs conducted properly and associated documents filled out and signed off?
  • Were all mechanical systems (Cleaning, Processing, Production, and Utility) functioning properly?
  • Was there a late start or any associated downtime experienced during the production run?
  • Was there any mechanical work that was conducted before, during, or at the end of the production run?
  • Was rework introduced into the product stream at any time?
  • Were there any mechanical adjustments made during the production run?
  • Following a mechanical failure, were any used or new parts installed?
  • Were any non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts installed?
  • Was all Preventative Maintenance (PMs) work conducted as required?
  • Were there any reports (Sanitation, Processing, Production, Quality, or Mechanical) or trends to indicate that this problem was beginning to occur?


One important rule to follow and to make sure you communicate this to the teams, that you will operate under the guidelines of Psychological Safety.

To understand this concept in full, please read the following Harvard Business Review article.

Thank you

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