Wednesday, October 7, 2009

5 Y's & 2 ToDo's

Have you ever wondered why your manager might sometimes talk to you like a little kid obsessed with the word "Why?" ...

There is a problem solving method that asks you to do just that.

Which is a pretty good idea when you think about it - as annoying as that can be when you are on the receiving end of it.  (A little humility and an open mind can go a long way in those times.)

But finding out why is worthless if you're not going to do something about it.  In fact you really need to do two things about it.

I think the true wisdom in these approaches though is the idea of solving problems iteratively.

What I mean by this is that usually when you have a Really Big ProblemTM - it is going to take a lot of time & effort to fix - usually because it took a long time to create the problem.  That is to say, that the problem itself was created iteratively - one uninformed/bad decision compounding the others growing over time.

If you have systemic problems like that - it is perhaps best to solve those problems iteratively also.  An hour's effort here and there compounded over time can achieve meaningful results without necessarily getting in the way of General ProgressTM.

It also has the effect of assigning more realistic priorities to things.  If you spend an hour working on the root cause every time that you have a recurring problem - the problems that occur most often will end up getting the most cumulative attention instead of those that perhaps are perceived as being more important.

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