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Why? The Most Important Question in Problem Solving!

Leadership Development Programs in Problem Solving

At Integral Development, we provide an elite and unique series of programs, including leadership development courses, programs and executive coaching, from our Perth campus or at your place of business. Our programs are based on Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory which encompasses over 6,000 years of human thought in disciplines such as science, spirituality, psychology and quantum physics.

An interdisciplinary approach such as ours provides abundant opportunity for inquiry and this is by design. Only by inquiry do we truly maximise our learning potential. The “5-Why Method,” created by Sakichi Toyoda and integrated into the Toyota Production System, is a perfect example of inquiry in action. We like it because it is something anyone can do right now to affect positive changes in the workplace.

5 Whys? Why?

If someone makes a mistake, they are often either offended, befuddled or trying to make excuses when they are asked why. Invariably, the answer covers a symptom. Often, that answer deflects responsibility. By continuing to ask “why,” the questioner eventually finds one or more root causes.

While simply asking “why” 5 times sounds mind-numbingly simple to some, it is a layered approach that “drills down” beneath superficial answers to provide greater depth of analysis. Even when applied as an emergency measure, the 5-Why method provides a basis for further dialogue and can usually uncover at least one root cause.

The 5-Why is not only standard procedure at Toyota, but is also taught as part of Six Sigma.

Tips for Effective Use

By asking “why” at least 5 times, you correct one common error: stopping the process of inquiry before finding any root causes. Even a well-meaning answer such as “I made a mistake” is only a symptom and accepting it with no further inquiry can keep you from uncovering flaws within your system. No matter what the symptom, keep asking why until you find a systemic flaw.

What to Avoid

When asking why, don’t assign blame to individuals. Remember that you are looking for flaws in the system so that you can take human error out of the equation whenever possible.

For More Techniques

Integral Development is a truly unique and elite entity in the field of personal and professional development. Call (08) 9242 8122 for more information about our leadership development programs that can help you solve problems.

Ron Cacioppe

Ron Cacioppe is the Managing Director of Integral Development and holds a BSc, an MBA and a PhD. He has taught in the Graduate School of Management at Macquarie University, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia.

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