The Root of Things – Where Action Begins
The root of things is that place of origin! In business operations, it’s the investigated spot where permanently removing un-wanted events begins. In other words, to stop system-busting events, we must determine what makes them tick, and remove the source from 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, 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
- WHY? Answer: It was the wrong size.
- WHY was it the wrong size? Answer: The CSR input a wrong spec into the job tracking software.
- WHY did the CSR input a wrong spec into the job tracking software? Answer: She simply overlooked it.
- WHY did she simply overlook it? Answer: Because, she’s human! Moreover, we had NO SYSTEM to prompt her to input that particular spec.
- WHY is there no system? Answer: Because the owner thinks SYSTEMS are a waste of time—especially, quality assurance systems.
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.
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!
Philip Beyer, founder/president of Ebiz Products LLC and founder of Beyer Printing Inc. in Nashville Tenn., is a chronic entrepreneur, business systems analyst and consultant. Author of "System Busters: How to Stop Them in Your Business" and recipient of an InterTech Technology Award for the design and development of System100 business process management software. Beyer speaks to business owners across the country on how to bring lean, sustainable order to their businesses. Contact him at (615) 425-2652.