Monday, 14 April 2014

There is no breakthrough. Don't ask 5 Why's. Doesn't it make sense?

I'm working in manufacturing now for more than 25 years. But in all this time I made never the experience that I was part of a breakthrough result. For sure, if I look back, there are sometimes incredible better results, much improved performance and unbelievable increased competencies but I have never experienced a big move forward in a short period of time that I can call a breakthrough.

All experiences I have, I would describe as hard work, talent and luck. And all so called breakthroughs look to me as if it is always only a historical point of view. Most of the time there is an explanation that looks like a necessary development toward a breakthrough following the principle cause and result. But a good explanation of a breakthrough doesn`t mean that there is more than a result of a lot of small steps from many different people working in the same direction.

You can explain life backwards, but you have to live forward. But despite of thinking this, nevertheless the question still remains "Does it make sense to go for a breakthrough?". I don't know. Maybe yes, to get the best possible result. More than what is usually expected. But I'm struggeling with this approach because it can happen that this approach becomes more the purpose instead of the tool.

And if the objectives become more and more unrealistic, it leads to forcing the system and threatening the people. Forcing a system is impossible. Threatening people leads to fear, overwhelming workload, political games, missing openess. You can go for a breakthrough. But same time you should not go for unrealistic goals, what leads to force and fear.

Doesn't it make sense, does it?

In manufacturing during the last years I was trained to ask "5 Why's" in order to come to the root cause. This approach ensures to solve sustainably a problem. But especially from my point of view a lot of managers are not aware that before you start solving a problem, the team has to agree to the problem. And to have deeply a good understanding of the problem, you have to pay a lot of time in the description of the problem. The moment you start asking "Why", you start to conclude logically, what solution is necessary. The moment you start asking "Why", you start judging and you start narrowing your perception.

Asking "Why" does not differentiate anymore. Asking "Why" integrates. It's going for a specific answer. The answer to the question "Why" gives never new information. You always get an answer that the asked person has already in mind. There is no learning in asking "Why". The person you ask will never be surprised by your question and only if the person is surprised by your question, a thinking process can occur.

Furthermore "Why" is asking for an explanation. This meets very often the feelings of the asked person. You have to give an answer and this answer has to be a reason, an explanation. You feel forced to explain the problem and yourself.

If you start asking more open, this is much more humble and allows the asked person to draw a picture with more colours. It builds trust. Don't start an investigation for a root cause with a "Why".

Doesn't it make sense, does it?

Last funny remark to all bosses in the world. Don`t ask "Doesn't it make sense, does it?" at the end of a speech. You will never get a senseful answer.

Doesn't it make sense, does it?

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