root causeroot cause - An entity usually appearing at the lowest level of causality within a current reality tree for which there are no postulated causes. It is a starting point for a reality branch that leads to one or more undesirable effects (UDEs).
Usage: If a root cause results in the majority of the UDEs including the most significant ones, it may be labeled as the core problem. When a root cause is eliminated, the recurrence of one or more UDEs will be prevented. In contrast to a core driver, a root cause is a state or condition over which a manager has some degree of influence or the capability to change.
Perspective: Root cause, as used here, is different from the identical term when associated with the TQM paradigm where brainstorming and creating a fishbone diagram or producing an interrelationship digraph yield the cause responsible for a defined problem within a process being improved.
See:causality, core driver, core problem, current reality tree, entity, undesirable effect.