The Root Cause

Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems

Elementary, My Dear Watson . . .

The US Marine Corps manual Warfighting describes FRICTION as:

... the force that resists all action and saps energy. 
It makes the simple difficult and the difficult seemingly impossible.

            How often do YOU, as a responsible decision maker, encounter friction and conflict? How often have you uttered the words “If only [fill in the blank].” Although the outcome you desire seems so reasonable and doable, the road or process to realize that objective appears to run into a series of invisible obstacles, one difficulty after another.

            Perhaps you need to Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide problems, which is the subtitle of my book The Root Cause published by McGraw Hill (take a peek inside). Our dominant approach―our current level of thinking―is our blind spot.

            Consequently, the SIMPLE becomes DIFFICULT when we take the wrong approach to addressing friction and conflict. After all, in the words of the famous sleuth Sherlock Holmes, the right approach is “Elementary, my dear Watson!”
How unfortunate the disdain for the elementary, and reverence for the advanced, special, higher, more complicated or intricate. Why do we crave to run when we can barely crawl, let alone walk?

Let me show you two opposing approaches; it’s all about where you start.

  1. Experiencing friction and conflict indicates you have a systemic or enterprise-wide problem. In other words, the business system lost its integrity.
  2. A problem is defined as a discrepancy between the current state of your business and its desired state. In other words, current processes are misaligned; they are no longer properly aimed at the system’s intended purpose.
  3. Question:       Do you know the current state? In other words, can you explain what the business system is doing and what it is capable of doing in terms of operational processes? If not, then you don’t know; that is another problem!
  4. Question:       Have you articulated and shared the desired state? In other words, does everyone know the specific purpose for which the business was created? People work best when they know WHY you want them to realize certain results or outcomes.
    Russel Ackoff queries: If you don’t know what you WANT to do if you could do anything you wanted to do, then how would you know what you could do under constraints?
  5. Question:       What is your main decision criterion for selecting the right approach? In other words, what is your measurement of success for your problem solving exercise?
  6. If you choose to just get rid of unintended and unwanted results, then what is the chance of realigning the current state with the desired state? In other words, while the solution of your choice may be beneficial to business growth—increasing its size and form—it does not eliminate or prevent the problem from coming back. That’s why systemic problems seem to be without solution!
  7. If you choose to pursue what you intend and want the system to achieve, you’ll have to improve the system’s capability and capacity. In other words, the system’s design needs to be realigned with the purpose for which it was created. That’s why point 4 on the desired state is crucial to solving systemic problems successfully.
  8. According to your decision criterion you’ll choose to start here or there. These inherently different approaches will, inevitably, lead to different destinations. In other words, success depends on articulating what you want to achieve and then to select the right approach accordingly.
  9. Diagnosis requires identifying the problem, which requires knowledge of the current state and the desired state. If you don’t know either one of them, then . . . what IS your problem really? Unfortunately, root cause analysis is unknown or unexplored territory. Do you ever wonder why there are so many systemic problems?
  10. Solutions are neither secret, nor illusive or scarce. Every root cause (question) contains the seed for its solution (answer). Solutions only appear to be secret, illusive, and scarce for those who failed to do their homework; root cause analysis.
    Question:       How does one select any solution without knowledge of the root cause(s)?
    Answer:          Trial and Error. Would you accept that from anyone as their explanation why a problem keeps coming back no matter how much money, time and effort they already spent on it?

Elementary indeed, simple, not complicated, just follow the process.
YET, that’s not so easy as it sounds.

YOU decide where you want to start, which outcomes you can expect to obtain as a consequence of your choice.

So, choose wisely!

#RootCauseTheBook #ExecutiveDevelopment

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