The Root Cause

Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems

The Missing Link in Our Schooling

Back in 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote in his famous book Think and Grow Rich:

This “missing link” in all systems of education known to civilization today, may be found in the failure of educational institutions to teach their students HOW TO ORGANIZE AND USE KNOWLEDGE AFTER THEY ACQUIRE IT.

To organize means to structure or operate a system according to some principle or idea. And, a system is a network of nodes―component parts of an organic whole―and their connections. Structure is thus the connective tissue, the space in between the nodes.

How to Understand Reality

Mark Twain cautioned us to not let schooling interfere with our education. As Napoleon Hill noticed, schooling is about transferring knowledge. And, advancing one’s schooling requires specialization—narrowing one’s scope of attention, while increasing the level of detail of a particular area of interest separate and in isolation of all other areas of interest.

My education—from the Latin word “educo”, which means to develop from within—told me that parts, or organs, belong to a bigger whole, or organism. No wonder my focus is on patterns of connections, relationships, principles, and other similarities, because it made me understand my world and once I understand I no longer need to rely on rote memorization of facts about individual nodes, or silos of specialized knowledge. These patterns explain and predict the effect of a particular cause.

Confusion and Disorder

For the longest time I had a hard time experiencing others not perceiving the world as I did, because it was so obvious to me; I just recognized a certain pattern. Inevitably, there is an disconnect between those searching for more data, information, and knowledge within a single silo of specialized knowledge and those who pursue understanding of relationships, connections, and interdependencies among multiple silos of specialized knowledge. It’s the difference in answers to WHAT and HOW questions and WHY questions.

Consequently, as the late Col. John Boyd USAF said, “One cannot determine the character or nature of a system within itself. Moreover, attempts to do so lead to confusion and disorder.”

Guess what executives from around the globe identified as their most bewildering experience as a leader? Right, system complexity and the disruptive effect of new and unforeseen circumstances on system integrity. Exactly, confusion and disorder; the Achilles Heel of CEO effectiveness. After all, you cannot lead a business―solve its systemic problems or change strategic direction―if you don’t understand how it functions as a singular, unique, integrated, and open system!

Being the Odd-Man Out

Explaining a situation but not being understood is frustrating, to say the least. Having one’s offers to help rejected whereas stop-gap measures receive accolades, while knowing full-well why they will fail to deliver on their promises and, in the end, only to be proven right, is no consolation.

It’s a karmic joke, like that BBC host eager to tell the Dalai Lama a Dalai Lama joke:

The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza parlor and asks “Can you make me one with everything?” 
and the Dalai Lama responded asking: “What’s a pizza parlor?”

The crux is lost in translation, or in what Boyd identified as:

An interactive process of many-sided implicit cross-referencing projections, empathies, correlations, and rejections that are shaped by the interplay of genetic heritage, cultural tradition, previous experiences, and unfolding circumstances.

Drinking the Kool-Aid at the Polymath Networking Café

What IS a polymath? I had never heard of that term. How would I know if I’m one?

I received my invitation to Barbara Kleeb’s Networking Café through LinkedIn. I resonated with the description of a polymath provided by one of the participants: It’s not that I’m interested in so many things, but that I CAN get interested in so many different things.

Wow, we were all talking the same language, using the same words to express ourselves, which was, and still is, exhilarating! From then on, my being IN this world made sense; pieces of the puzzle started to fall into place. And, my book The Root Cause: Rethink Your Approach To Solving Stubborn Enterprise-Wide Problems was validated.

Rather than teaching systems thinking, The Root Cause provides a canvas with a painting by numbers methodology; the structure between the nodes. After all, what matters most to system performance is the spaces in between the nodes; the “missing link” in all systems of education known to civilization today―how to organize and use knowledge after one acquires it.

Wish me luck introducing that as a curriculum for Executive Development!

#RootCauseTheBook #ExecutiveDevelopment

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