Investigation and Response

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Root Cause Analysis: A Critical Ethics and Compliance Practice

By Jonathan T. Marks, CPA, CFF, CITP, CGMA, CFE[1]

“If you don’t ask the right questions, you don’t get the right answers. A question asked in the right way often points to its own answer. Asking questions is the ABC of diagnosis. Only the inquiring mind solves problems.”

– Edward Hodnett

When Edward Hodnett, author of The Art of Problem Solving, offered his thoughts on asking the right questions, he was, in effect, describing some of the fundamental principles of root cause analysis. Originally developed in the early 20th century by pioneering Japanese industrialist Sakichi Toyoda, root cause analysis today is one of the most widely practiced management and problem-solving techniques.

Yet despite its worldwide recognition, root cause analysis is often overlooked, short-circuited, or simply misunderstood in the context of fraud detection, deterrence, and remediation. Effective root cause analysis should be regarded as a critical component of every anti-fraud initiative, regardless of scope or area of focus.

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