Jan 24, 2017

Why Phil Connors Needed a CAPA Solution

What would you do if your 
CAPA was stuck in one place?

by David Jensen

Marketing Communications Specialist, MasterControl

The movie “Groundhog Day” is a timeless romantic comedy where TV weather reporter, Phil Connors, gets stuck in a time loop and relives the same day (February 2) over and over. From the opening scene it was obvious (and predictable) that Phil needed an attitude makeover, or perhaps a personal corrective and preventive action (CAPA).

I apologize in advance to those of you who haven’t seen the film, there may be some spoilers.

The story begins with local TV weatherman, Phil Connors, grudgingly visiting Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the fourth year in a row to do a soft news report about the world’s most famous weatherman—the groundhog. Being less than enthused about the assignment, he plans to just do the story and leave, but a blizzard keeps him in town another night. When he wakes the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again, and again and again.

The premise made for an amusing story, and I’m sure at one time or another we have all felt like we’re living the same day over and over. However, in Phil’s case, having a CAPA solution would have served him well in getting to February 3.

Initially, Phil embraces his evolutionary stalemate and takes advantage of taking no responsibility for his actions …

Phil (after running over a mailbox and leading police on a high speed chase): “I’m not going to live by their rules anymore!”

Apparently, living life with reckless abandon gets old. Eventually, Phil desperately started trying to figure out how to break free from his Groundhog Day hamster wheel. However, he was clearly oblivious to why this time-warp conundrum was happening to him. Although, we, the viewing audience, along with Rita, the news producer played by Andie MacDowell, were pretty sure his plight had something to do with the person, his prima donna view of himself and his attitude toward people …

Phil (arriving at a motel): “Rita, I can’t stay here, it’s a fleabag. I won’t stay here.”
Rita: “You’re not staying here. I booked you in a nice bed and breakfast.”
Phil: “I think this is one of the traits of a good producer. Keep the talent Happy.”

Phil: “This is pitiful. A thousand people freezing their butts off waiting to worship a rat.”

In a nutshell, Phil’s ego could eclipse the entire western hemisphere and he possesses all the charm and sensitivity of a can of spam. He makes no attempt to mask his discontent, which clearly impacts his relationships, and even his work …

Phil: “It’s the same shtick every year. They pull the little rat out, talk to him, the rat talks back, then they tell us when it’ll end.” “This is one time where television fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather.”

Eventually, Phil wises up to the fact that any hope of breaking the cycle meant that he needed to fix some things about himself. Or in his case, launch a full-scale CAPA. However, despite this epiphany, he still insisted on doing things his way, often making matters worse.

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Phil’s way: Get someone else to fix the problem

Phil couldn’t be bothered with this kind of annoyance. He figured the best course of action was to step aside and let someone else fix the problem …

Phil: “I’m reliving the same day over and over. Groundhog Day. Today. I’m asking for help.”
Rita: “What do you want me to do?”
Phil: “I don’t know, you’re a producer, come up with something.”
Rita: “I think you need help, professional help.”

Rather than starting with identifying the root cause, Phil immediately enlisted the help of costly medical and psychological experts. It turns out that the doctors had zero understanding or experience with what he was going through (go figure). That was a dead end.

A CAPA solution that automates all CAPA tasks would have kept Phil on task. Instead of his seat-of-the-pants approach, he could have followed a more disciplined process in gathering and organizing the right data and isolating the root cause before jumping head long into a corrective action.

Phil’s way: Gather any data whether it was useful or not

After getting nowhere with the medical professionals, he figured if he could change Rita’s perception of him it would be enough to get out of the time warp. In trial and error fashion, he launched an elaborate scheme to win her over. He set out to create the perfect day by making mental notes about what Rita likes and dislikes, which was slightly less effective than scrawling notes on scratch paper.

The data he gathered was random, often incorrect and had little relevance to the root problem. This resulted in multiple, yet entertaining re-starts.

Rita: “This whole day has just been one long setup. And I hate fudge.”
Phil: “No white chocolate. No fudge.”
Rita: “What are you doing? Are you making some kind of list?”

A CAPA solution automates the management of the entire CAPA process and dynamically captures, links and trends data, which helps prevent human data entry errors. It displays only the data that is relevant to investigating quality events and root causes.

Phil’s way: Fix the minimum of what’s needed and move on

After a number of short cuts and false starts in an attempt to rush a resolution, Phil finally realized that a quick fix was not going to get him to the next day. He discovered this only after collaborating with his co-workers and obtaining the correct data for resolving the issue.

Phil: “What are you looking for? Who is your perfect guy?”
Rita: “He’s kind, sensitive and gentle. He’s not afraid to cry in front of me.”
Phil: “This is a man, right?”
Rita: “He plays an instrument, and he loves his mother.”
Phil: “I am really close on this one.”

An automated CAPA solution integrates CAPA processes with all the other components of the quality system. With automated analytics and reporting, organizations can get a real-time, holistic view of all quality processes. It also automates routing, escalation and approval of a CAPA and related documents. Being able to see the big picture can be highly beneficial in isolating the root cause of deviations and implementing an effective CAPA.

If Phil had only discovered this earlier.

Groundhog Day remains one of the most endearing movies of all time. It’s funny, has a lot of good quotes and provides plenty of valuable lessons along the way. 

What quality management issues make you feel like you’re experiencing a Groundhog Day? Please comment below.

David Jensen is a content marketing specialist at MasterControl. He has been writing technical, marketing and public relations content in technology, professional development, business and regulated environments for more than two decades. He has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Weber State University and a master’s degree in professional communication from Westminster College.

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