A root cause is an initiating cause of either a condition or a causal chain that leads to an outcome or effect of interest. The term denotes the earliest, most basic, 'deepest', cause for a given behavior; most often a fault. The idea is that you can only see an error by its manifest signs. Those signs can be widespread, multitudinous, and convoluted, whereas the root cause leading to them often is a lot simpler.
A "root cause" is a "cause" (harmful factor) that is "root" (deep, basic, fundamental, underlying, initial or the like).
Fantin (2014) describes the root cause as the result of the drill-down root cause analysis required to discover which is the process that is failing, defining it as "MIN Process" (meaning a process that is Missing, Incomplete or Not followed).
- Causation – Efficacy that connects a causing process with a resulting process or state, where the first process is partly accountable for the second and the second is dependent on the first
- Forensic engineering – Investigation of failures associated with legal intervention
- Proximate and ultimate causation
- Root cause analysis – Method of identifying the fundamental causes of faults or problems
- RPR problem diagnosis
- "The Present State of Medical Practice in the Rhondda Valley". The Lancet. 166 (4290): 1507. 18 November 1905. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(00)68499-4.
- Fantin, Ivan (2014). Applied Problem Solving: Method, Applications, Root Causes, Countermeasures, Poka-Yoke and A3. Milan, Italy: Createspace, an Amazon company. ISBN 9781499122282.
- Pitagorsky, George. The Zen Approach to Project Management: Working from Your Center to Balance Expectations and Performance. IIL Publishing. p. 38. ISBN 9780970827692.