Do you ask tough questions to reduce ineffectiveness?

Ask Why 5 times or more
We have all heard/read or studied about the Root Cause Analysis technique used by Quality Teams the world over.
Perhaps many of us have been part of such teams and had the opportunity to utilize the 5 Why technique ourselves.

In my experience over the years (and I have written abut this before) I have found that some of the more astute leaders I have had the good fortune to work with, have made a science out of the use of two relatively simple questions modeled on the above – Why? And Why Not?

Now these two questions taken individually may seem innocuous enough however when used in tandem, they morph into the most toughest questions to respond to (in my own humble opinion). Here is an illustration:

Leader: Market share dropped from 36% overall to 31% over the last 2 Quarters – Why?
You: Well we had a problem with a few of our business partners and product movement was interrupted as a result
Leader: Why did we have issues with the business partners?
You: There were questions about the margins we had offered and the cost of sale for the new line (the business partners feel they need to spend more n marketing on the new line and were looking for a break in incentives and/or margins).
Leader: Did you consider escalating to me and scheduling a review so we could look into their requests?
You: No
Leader: Why not?

Over the years, over several different assignments, I have practiced using the above two questions to great effect – and they remain  my go to tool  to this day!

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