Becoming Great- The Essentials
Based on my knowledge and experience, for your company or organization to become great you must press in to every situation and get to what I call the “essentials”.
Essentials are those ideas or that understanding that make up the fabric or essence of what you do. This is why it is so important that your core values and your company’s purpose be true. If you don’t go through the hard work to determining what your purpose and values really ARE, you risk being called hypocritical, “do what I say not as I do.” There is no quicker way to waste your time and energy. You need a valid process, and a facilitator who understands and will not “let you off the hook” until to get to this core.
One example of essentials is in problem solving. Here is a way of getting to the root cause of a problem called “The Five Whys. It can go like this:
Problem Statement: You are on your way home from work and your car stops in the middle of the road.
1. Why did your car stop?
– Because it ran out of gas.
2. Why did it run out of gas?
– Because I didn’t buy any gas on my way to work.
3. Why didn’t you buy any gas this morning?
– Because I didn’t have any money.
4. Why didn’t you have any money?
– Because I spent it on cigarettes.
5. Why did you spend your money on cigarettes?
– Because at the time I really wanted a cigarette and they had a two for one sale, and I thought I could make it on the gas I had so I bought the cigarettes instead of the gas.
A problem, by definition, is the difference between what you want to happen and what is actually happening (or happened). The difference in the above example is the habit of smoking. It is the difference between having gas and not having gas. That habit, that addiction is the problem because it led to a wrong choice. The “difference” is the problem. Once you identify the problem there is the essential idea of getting to it’s root or cause. The 5 Why’s are a very good tool to accomplish this.
Be sure to ask the questions with the intent of solving the problem, NOT in finding the guilty party. The 5 Why’s are really a technique that helps people to see the real value of getting to the root of the matter. If people are “grilled” or if they feel like you are “prosecuting” them they will not participate. The point is that if you do it focused on WHAT happened not on WHO”s wrong, you will eventually have the 2 Why’s or the 1 Why to get the root.
And, quite frankly if you focus on WHAT versus WHO you build TRUST as your people will realize that you just want to get to the root of the problem and solve it.
Of course NO technique works with the wrong people. Everything BEGINS with the RIGHT people in the RIGHT jobs.