The Root of ThingsThe root of things is that place of origin. In business operations, it’s the investigated spot where removing un-wanted events permanently, begins. In other words, to stop system-busting events, we must determine what makes them tick and remove the source on which they feed.

In simple terms, the sure method for getting rid of weeds is to pull them out by their roots. Surprisingly, even simple analogies and solutions for ending disorder like this, escape many business professionals.

How do I know?

Having meaningful conversations with business professionals concerning systematization, by mapping their operational processes, is at times most frustrating. When offering uncomplicated suggestions for “ending a non-conformance permanently,” we hear defensive language, such as:

“That will never work for our business.”

“Our type jobs are too complex for that to work.”

“We’ve tried putting in systems before; they just didn’t work.”

“Our employees won’t go for that.”

“We need good people, not good systems.”

And, the most dumbfounding statement made by such business professionals, after sharing how total quality management will make a huge positive impact on their business and life, is:

“Philip, aren’t those ‘quality’ things just a THEORY?”

Makes you want to fire back, “Is pulling a weed out by its roots in order to kill it, just a theory?”

Makes me want to pull my hair out by the roots!

If you’re thinking there will be other weeds springing up, you’re right!

So, pull them up by their roots! One weed at a time, using one system at a time!

Those Not Seeking Excuses for Stupid Mistakes

The direct path to the Root of Things is asking the question, WHY?  In fact, “WHY” up to five times or more, if necessary.

As a result, you WILL arrive at the Root of Things.

Consequently, after arriving at the root, it’s now permanently FIXABLE.

Example: Root Cause Search for a Non-Conforming Event

The Non-conformance: The widget we delivered to client was incorrect

  1. WHY?

Answer: It was the wrong size.

  1. WHY was it the wrong size?

Answer: The CSR input a wrong spec into the Job Tracking Software.

  1. WHY did the CSR input a wrong spec into the Job Tracking Software?

Answer: She simply overlooked it.

  1. WHY did she simply overlook it?

Answer: Because, she’s human! Moreover, we had NO SYSTEM to prompt her to input that particular spec.

  1. WHY is there no system?

Answer: Because the owner thinks SYSTEMS are a waste of time—especially, quality assurance systems.

In this example, the ROOT CAUSE for this error is simple; there was NO system to PROMPT the CSR to input the correct spec.

Therefore, unless the owner makes the decision to assure quality via control systems, stupid mistakes will continue.

Beware—Corrective Action may Initiate Employee Wrath

Many business owners fear the process of digging for the root of things. Beware, when exposing bad behavior by employees during the WHY discovery process. Because, many times, employees push-back hard. Not to mention, getting super defensive.

In addition, while searching for the root cause of stupid mistakes, finger pointing may begin. Whereby, an Un-Civil war may breakout among employees.

To be sure, seeking root causes is NOT for “wimpy bosses”!

How do I know?

Many times, we confronted face-to-face opposition from employees when bringing order to our business. However, stopping errors and miscommunications in our business was the goal—an unwavering decision. Therefore, surrendering to chaos was not an option!

With that in mind, kick all those who oppose order to the curb. You might say, this is another form of weed control!

In conclusion, giving quality service and products to customers is worth the battle.

TEST: Try asking the WHY question to those employees involved in the next stupid mistake that occurs in your business. You may be surprised at what you discover during the root search.

Did I mention? Great systems work—it’s not a theory!