The Root Cause

Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems

So, You Want Some Answers Huh . . . ?

Pounding your fist on the desk and demanding to get some answers might make you look tough, but is this demeanor helping or hindering getting you what you want?

Pounding fists on desks is a sure sign of frustration, which is typical of leaders who are confronted with challenges that linger, persist, and keep coming back. These challenges just seem to be without solution. Does that ring a bell? Anyone . . . ?

Such challenges are classified as Systemic Problems because they are inherent to the design, structure or organization, implementation or operation, maintenance, and management of a business’ system.

A specific form of systemic problems is known as Human Error. Contrary to popular belief, human error does NOT refer to a single individual who messed up, which is generally identified as Operator Error. Studies have proven that human error is not the cause of failure, but the symptom of a failing business system. Statistics show that seventy-five percent (75%) to ninety-six percent (96%) of all incidents—i.e. accidents and near misses—involve human error.

Human error is a chain reaction triggered by some form of Organizational Influence—Resource Management, Organizational process, and Organizational Climate. This indicates that conditions prone to human error are created by management decisions, which can date back days, weeks, months, or even years. Decision makers would better consider the risk and chances of incidents of human error because of its insidious ability to defeat, disable, and bypass system defenses intended to prevent accidents from occurring.

You Still Want Answers?

Solving systemic problems is similar to psychotherapy. After all, the therapist only asks you pointed questions, whereas you’re the one providing all the answers.

Diagnosticians—such as therapists and consultants conducting root cause analyses—have thought patterns that are different from operational line-managers. This shows that routine and change are two sides of the same coin. Therefore, it is rather unfortunate that most business education curricula are limited to routine operations—the WHAT and HOW, or nuts and bolts of running a business.

Pointed diagnosticians’ questions are intended to reveal the WHY behind a decision maker’s WAT and HOW. Consequently, diagnosticians explore the operative relationships between cause and effect—specific beliefs, values, theories, dogmas, ideologies, or assumptions that resulted in unintended and unwanted friction and conflict. These unintended and unwanted outcomes can only be solved on the level of their cause, or a decision maker’s level of thinking.


Now you know why systemic problems keep coming back . . . because decision makers are unwilling to change their level of thinking. In addition, many consultants succumb to the advice contained in the expression Whose Bread I Eat, His Song I Sing; you demand answers and so they dish up step-by-step best practices, the proprietary secret one-size-fits-all silver bullet solutions that make you dependent on their services. Contractors are happy with your patronage, and decision makers are happy for not having to do the hard work of changing their level of thinking while showing off their hands-on attitude.

Please note the wisdom contained in Einstein’s famous quote “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking which created them”―CHANGE YOUR LEVEL OF THINKING. Whenever a problem seems to be without solution, the obstacle is found in a decision maker’s insistence that their reasoning is valid and must be observed.

Contact me for pointed questions to reveal the answers within you.

To read more, get a copy of my book The Root Cause: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems.

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