Where Good Ideas Come From

April 27th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Ideas - (2 Comments)

“Chance favors the connected mind!”

I found the following video on “Where Good Ideas Come From” very knowledgeable and informative.

You can also check out Steven Johnson’s interesting book “Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation” which describes Seven Key Principles to maximize creativity:

  1. The adjacent possible – the principle that at any given moment, extraordinary change is possible but that only certain changes can occur (this describes those who create ideas that are ahead of their time and whose ideas reach their ultimate potential years later).
  2. Liquid networks – the nature of the connections that enable ideas to be born, to be nurtured and to blossom and how these networks are formed and grown.
  3. The slow hunch – the acceptance that creativity doesn’t guarantee an instant flash of insight but rather, germinates over time before manifesting.
  4. Serendipity – the notion that while happy accidents help allow creativity to flourish, it is the nature of how our ideas are freely shared, how they connect with other ideas and how we perceive the connection at a specific moment that creates profound results.
  5. Error – the realization that some of our greatest ideas didn’t come as a result of a flash of insight that followed a number of brilliant successes but rather, that some of those successes come as a result of one or more spectacular failures that produced a brilliant result.
  6. Exaptation – the principle of seizing existing components or ideas and re-purposing them for a completely different use (for example, using a GPS unit to find your way to a reunion with a long-lost friend when GPS technology was originally created to help us accurately bomb another country into oblivion).
  7. Platforms – adapting many layers of existing knowledge, components, delivery mechanisms and such that in themselves may not be unique but which can be recombined or leveraged into something new that is unique or novel.

Where do you get your ideas from?

Dr John Kapeleris

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Napoleon Hill in his all-time bestselling book “Think and Grow Rich” makes mention of the power of the Mastermind. The mastermind principle is defined as the coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people for the achievement of a definite purpose. A mastermind group can be a powerful way to achieve your definite purpose or goals. I have joined a few mastermind groups each having a specific purpose or goal where the contribution of the knowledge, experience and united spirit of all members can catapult you to the next level of achievement. Members of a mastermind group will have a common interest where each person is willing to discuss topics openly and contribute knowledge and experience. The mastermind groups that I belong to meet regularly and have formal and informal agendas for prior preparation and subsequent discussion. A number of outcomes have emerged from my mastermind groups, including sharing knowledge and ideas, creating new start-up businesses, identifying new commercial opportunities, and developing solutions for business and community problems. Some of the most successful people in the world (e.g. Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie) have relied on their mastermind groups to guide them or provide wisdom and inspiration.

Another mastermind concept is establishing your personal “Board of Directors” which involves a group of trusted people or mentors who can guide you or coach you in various aspects of your life, including business, career, personal development, financial or health. For example, when I was between jobs I had a personal fitness and conditioning coach, a career coach and a personal development coach. I would meet with my personal fitness and conditioning coach three times a week for a period of eighteen months undergoing fitness, physical endurance and mental conditioning training. I would also meet with my career and personal development coaches once every two weeks, alternating between each coach weekly. When I met with my personal development coach I would discuss my progress in building and enhancing my skills for my next challenge in life. My mentor would give me self discovery exercises, references to read and small development projects to complete between the meeting sessions. My mentor also opened my mind to a wealth of opportunities that I would investigate and develop in later months and years.

Many successful people establish their own personal “Board of Directors” by identifying key individuals who can assist them in specific areas of focus. If you need a business mentor or adviser you proceed by identifying and choosing someone who has had considerable success and achievement in business. Finding the right mentor or business coach can have a significant affect on your life. A mentor can teach and guide you through your life journey and can be one of the best ways to achieve personal success. Mentors can also accelerate your learning curve by providing the knowledge to fill the gap of “What you don’t know you don’t know“. For example, a business mentor can provide you with the tools and resources to grow your business or to teach you the strategies and processes (tricks of the trade) for a new business opportunity.

Following is a process of finding the right mentors to build your personal “Board of Directors”:

  1. Identify a person in your domain or area of interest who has been successful and would make a great mentor. e.g. a business mentor
  2. Your next step is to contact the person via telephone or a written letter and request whether they can be your mentor.
  3. Don’t be afraid; the worst thing that can happen is that they say “No”.
  4. If you do get a “No” then continue to look for another possible mentor.
  5. Once you have found a group of mentors establish a meeting schedule with an agenda to maximise the full benefits of the engagement. I find that monthly meetings over a coffee or tea is the best approach.
  6. The engagement should be a “win-win” therefore it is important that you also provide some value back to your mentor. This could be in the form of new leads, new business opportunities, information of interest or business intelligence.

Don’t hesitate. Start identifying potential mentors today and begin building your personal “Board of Directors”.

Dr John Kapeleris

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The “butterfly effect” refers to the idea that a small flap of a butterfly’s wings in one location could set off a chain of events in the atmosphere that could lead to large scale alterations or consequences, such as a tornado, in another location. The butterfly effect concept relates to the sensitive dependence on initial conditions as applied to chaos theory. In simple terms this means that a small change or activity in one location within a complex system results in large effects or consequences in another location or situation. Chaos theory is used to study the behaviour of dynamic and complex systems such as the weather, the changing landscape, the environment, medicine and biological evolution.

The concept of the “butterfly effect” can also be applied to our work and personal lives to provide insights about:

  • Considering how everything is interconnected
  • Understanding the law of cause and effect
  • Knowing the impact of the choices and decisions you make
  • Accepting the results you create
  • Achieving significant outcomes through small actions

Your personal and business life is part of a larger network of connections. You generally find that an action made (or not made) in life can have multiple influences and effects. For example, in the recent Brisbane, Australia flood, if water was released from the dams progressively as the dam levels were rising, could this have avoided the flood that Brisbane experienced? Related to this observation is the law of cause and effect which states that for every action there is an effect or reaction. In other words, “You reap what you sow”.

Your pathway in life and the decisions you make can also create ripples in life just like a “butterfly effect”. We are continuously faced with decisions that we have to make in life. The decisions could relate to education, career, lifestyle, personal development, opportunity and investment, that can change your pathway to higher prosperity. Of course making the wrong decisions could lead to a negative outcome. These inflection points in your life path will create your future destiny. You therefore have the option to influence your own destiny or allow your destiny to be dictated by external influences. In summary, “The decisions we make and the action we take today will determine our future results and outcomes”.

To achieve significant outcomes you need to reduce activities into small manageable tasks that require action. By mastering each of the small actions and disciplines, you build momentum that allows you to achieve the bigger outcomes that are linked to the actions.

A simple approach that can be implemented to achieve results is outlined below:

  1. Goals – Set your S.M.A.R.T. goals and objectives.
  2. Beliefs and Emotion – Establish a positive mindset and remove any limiting beliefs.
  3. Decision – Develop a plan of activities and tasks by making the right decision. Take into account all the impacts and influences the decision will produce.
  4. Action – Take small incremental and disciplined actions based on the activities and sub-tasks that you document in your plan.
  5. Results – Achieve the results and successful outcomes that you deserve.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Creative Hothouses Part 2

March 7th, 2011 | Posted by John Kapeleris in Creativity - (6 Comments)

A colleague asked me to provide further information on history’s “Creative Hothouses”, such as ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, the creative communities of the Parisian cafes and salons (early 1900s) and the German Bauhaus (1919-1933). Following is a summary of history’s creative hothouses.

Ancient Athens

The Athenians during the Golden Age of Greece (500 – 300 BC), created forms of history, mathematics, democracy, political science, philosophy, drama, architecture and sculpture, that continue to influence our world today. The hothouse of Athens was able to fuse a number of cultural domains into distinctive forms such as buildings, literature and politics. Thousands of years later the achievements of Athens played a crucial role in inspiring the Renaissance.

European Renaissance

The Renaissance Period (1300 to 1600), particularly in Florence, was characterised as the age of exploration with an emergence of new knowledge that influenced art and science. The knowledge from the ancient Greco-Roman period, that had lay dormant for a millennium, suddenly gained a renewed interest that further influenced the explosion of art and science. Advances in a number of industries occurred, including, travel, metallurgy, optics, ballistics, construction and agriculture. An exponential growth of wealth and knowledge also drove the emergence of the nation-state, each with its increased military power. The legacy created by the Renaissance Period was in the form of art. Life-like oil paintings and sculptures, the use of perspective, and the design of visually inspiring architecture was developed during the Renaissance.

The Parisian Cafes and Salons

During the early twentieth century, following the Paris World Fair in 1900, an industrial boom occurred in Europe and the United States, bringing new technological developments such as the horseless carriage, the wireless radio, widespread use of the telephone, and the proliferation of electric light bulbs. It was also the time when Albert Einstein published his first paper on the Theory of Relativity. During the early 1900s the Parisian cafes were social hubs fuelled by coffee, wine, and creative passion, where people would meet in an environment conducive to sharing mutually stimulating ideas and conversations. Gertrude Stein’s apartment also became one of the significant hothouses in Paris in the 1920s, with gatherings every Saturday night (salons) and visits throughout the week. Stein collected paintings of notable artists such as Picasso, Matisse and Braque before they became famous. The apartment became a salon of creativity where artists, poets and writers (Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Ernest Hemingway and Thornton Wilder to name a few) came together to share their experiences and fuel creative inspiration through the process of osmosis.

German Bauhaus

The German Bauhaus (1919-1933) under the leadership of Walter Gropius provided a workshop experience for architecture, sculpture, art and design. It also became the creative hub that bridged art and business where new creations could be transformed into products for the market. It brought together the cultural and physical landscapes to develop and stimulate students through transfering the skills of the masters. Many students then became masters teaching their learnings and experiences to future students. In 1934 when the Nazis declared all modern art to be ‘un-German”, the Bauhaus moved to Chicago where it became the New Bauhaus and later the Institute of Design.

Common Characteristics

The hothouses in history had a number of characteristics that were common, particularly the ability to accomplish the following (extracted from “The Hothouse Effect”):

  1. Sustain a high level of innovative creativity for a significant period of time
  2. Draw on the knowledge and innovation of the broader cultural community to which it belonged
  3. Spawn geniuses whose achievements climax the work of many other practitioners at all levels of achievements
  4. Establish a new paradigm, that is, a new way of doing things that informs its creative products and establishes new principles, procedures and standards.
  5. Achieve wide recognition and establish a lasting legacy to which future generations continually return to emulate.

It may also be interesting to study some of the more modern creative hothouses, such as Silicon Valley, and learn how intellectual exchanges led, in this example, to the development of the “dot.com boom”.

You may also know of other creative hothouses, local regional or national, that you would like to share.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Daniel Pink quoted in one of his presentations, “Left brain thinking gets you the job, right brain thinking gets you the promotion“. Since we are living in a ‘conceptual world’ through the impact of the digital economy we need to use both our analytical left brain but also our creative right brain. However, many of us struggle to develop our creative right brains because our educational system focuses on analysis, critical thinking, and facts and figures.

A key driver of business growth and development is the ability to nurture the intellectual capital in organizations (that is, the employees, their tacit knowledge, skills and experience). One critical success factor is to enhance creativity in people and subsequently in the organization by creating a “Hothouse Effect”. Dr Barton Kunstler author of the The Hothouse Effect describes a number of ways to intensify creativity in your organization using secrets from history’s most creative communities. The book describes common characteristics of history’s “Creative Hothouses”, including ancient Athens, Renaissance Florence, the creative communities of the Parisian salons (early 1900’s) and the German Bauhaus (1919-1933).

Following is a summary of the ‘Four Dimensions of the Hothouse Effect’. Learnings, observations, behaviours and processes from the creative hothouses  are outlined that can be applied to the modern organization to stimulate new thinking, creativity, innovation and breakthrough ideas.

I. Values/Mission.

  1. Values drive organizational goals, strategies and operations and should be ‘lived’ by employees throughout the work environment both explicitly and implicitly.
  2. The organization should support the creative expression of individuals and utilize their knowledge to solve problems and capitalize opportunities.
  3. Employees are driven by the vital impact and meaning they create for other individuals, organizations and society.
  4. Highly creative groups challenge assumptions and conduct in-depth research to gain a better understanding of the situation or problem.
  5. The organization’s mission aspires to universal application in the market.

II. Ideas/Exchange.

  1. The organization provides recognition and respect for thinkers and the products of thought.
  2. Create a system to facilitate the circulation and flow of ideas throughout the organization.
  3. Intellectual exchange inputs into the evolution of organizational culture.
  4. Employees tap into the expertise across disciplines and teams, and utilize other fields of knowledge.
  5. Mentoring relationships are cultivated throughout the organization.
  6. Hubs of creativity are encouraged which proliferate throughout the organization.
  7. The organization continually analyzes the impact of core technologies on all aspects of operations, development and strategy.

III. Perception/Learning

  1. The organization encourages and actively promotes education for all employees.
  2. Employees have access to tools and problem-solving methodologies to perform their work and deliver services to clients.
  3. Perception-based methods are implemented into the employees’ daily work lives.
  4. Creativity training is provided to employees to better understand the creative process, consisting of immersion, incubation and illumination.
  5. The organization and its employees maintain an open mind to external opportunities, networks and collaborations.
  6. Employees are encouraged to enhance their mental operations through various activities, including ‘thinking about thinking‘ and “design thinking’.

IV. Social/Play

  1. The organization has a strong business model that provides the resources and structure to encourage and support creative activity.
  2. The organization continues to develop its future leaders.
  3. Crises draw employees together and release hidden reserves of energy and creative inspiration.
  4. Playing with ideas, information and material encourages experimentation and removes the fear of failure.
  5. Social activities are planned imaginatively and promote social interaction and rapport.

The knowledge and practical approaches are available for any organization seeking a competitive advantage in this interconnected global arena. The challenge lies in the commitment and implementation strategy.

Dr John Kapeleris

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Stress is a natural reaction or response, both physical and emotional, to external threats or stimuli whether actual or imagined. A certain level of stress is required by the human body to ensure the nervous system responds to challenges, stays focused and remains alert. It is a way for the body to protect itself against external threats.

Excessive stress, however can be detrimental, and could result in the following health issues or symptoms:

  • increased blood pressure;
  • suppressed immune system;
  • increased risk of heart attack and stroke; and
  • accelerated aging.

Chronic or long-term stress can also impact on your mind by making you more vulnerable to depression and anxiety.

The following strategy will help to manage stress successfully:

  1. Allocate time for yourself. Spend some time each day relaxing or doing something that you really enjoy.
  2. Make time for other people in your life. Invest time with your close relationships by talking to them and listening to what they have to say.
  3. Start the day with a relaxation activity. Spend at least 15 to 30 minutes every morning exercising, thinking, or undertaking a relaxation exercise, such as reading or creative visualization.
  4. Allow enough time for travel. Avoid rushing to meetings and appointments by allowing enough time for travel so that you arrive in plenty of time stress-free.
  5. Get organized. Avoid clutter and chaos by being proactive in organizing your time (through your calendar), your files (as the documents become available) and your information systems (action and delete your emails).
  6. Be assertive and proactive. Be assertive but avoid aggressive behaviour which could result in stress. Say “no” to distractions and time-wasters. Furthermore being proactive by anticipating in advance what needs to be done will avoid stress in the future.
  7. Start a hobby. Find a hobby that is relaxing and non-stressful, such as reading or taking walks in the park.
  8. Avoid stressful situations. Avoid situations which could be stressful for you.
  9. Make lists and plans. You will be able to think more clearly by writing down your list of actions and plans.
  10. Relax before you go to bed. Before going to bed spend some time relaxing through reflection, creative visualization and relaxation activities, or simply reading a book.

Worry is another behaviour that can create excessive stress. Most of the things we worry about do not even come true. This is well illustrated by a quote from William R. Inge, “Worry is interest paid on trouble before it is due. Therefore, the best way to avoid or manage worry is to quickly evaluate a situation using a simple checklist by asking the following questions:

  1. What is the worst thing that can happen when confronted with the situation?
  2. How would I deal with the situation?

You will find that virtually any problem or challenge that is confronted can be solved in some way thereby avoiding the need to worry. Taking immediate action to solve the problem or challenge will ensure that the issues do not escalate and become unmanageable.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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Crowdsourcing refers to the outsourcing of tasks and activities, traditionally performed internally by an employee or an external contractor, to a large group of people (a crowd), through an open innovation approach or an open call.

In their book Wikinomics Don Tapscott and Anthony Williams discuss how mass collaboration can impact big changes in business. They also present a number of case studies of successful outsourcing and collaboration, including Goldcorp and Proctor & Gamble. In the case of Goldcorp, a Canadian gold mining company, after internal reports and advice from technical staff indicated that the gold mine had run out of gold, the CEO placed all the geological studies, surveys and reports related to the gold mine into the public domain via the Internet and offered a sum of money to whoever could come up with new information or leads for new gold deposits. The CEO’s strategy was successful. New computer modeling technology located in another small organization was able to predict the location of new gold deposits using the existing geological survey data.

By utilizing an open call to an undefined group of people (generally through the Internet), the call brings together people who are in the best position to be able to solve complex problems, provide new ideas and develop new opportunities.

Crowdsourcing has a number of advantages, however, it can also result in intellectual property (IP) issues, including ownership issues and confidentiality of IP. An appropriate governance process is required to ensure the disadvantages of crowdsourcing are minimized. Some of the advantages of using a crowdsourcing approach can include:

  • Reducing transaction costs of organisations
  • Finding new business opportunities
  • Building appropriate teams by finding the right  external people
  • Re-using previous work
  • Building user defined products and services
  • Solving difficult and complex problems

A number of online sites are available that specialise in bringing together different parties or groups to work on a particular project or solve a specific problem. Alternatively an organisation can also ask a question through one of its online networks such as facebook or LinkedIn. A selection of crowdsourcing sites of interest are outlined below:

  • ChaordixBusiness innovation – Engaging crowds through the web to solve your business problem
  • kluster – Brainstorming / feedback – Harness the power of your own hand-picked crowd to brainstorm ideas
  • namethisBrand names – A 48 hour competition site to find a suitable brand name for your venture
  • innocentive –  Problem solving – Brings together seekers who have a problem together with solvers from around the world who may be able to help
  • Rent A Coder – Software development – International marketplace to locate software coders
  • Global Ideas Bank – Social innovation – A site which collects social inventions that can change the world, which are rated by online voters.

One specific type of crowdsourcing strategy is crowdfunding which is also referred to as crowdlending. Crowdfunding is the collective cooperation,  attention and trust by people who network and pool their money together, usually via the Internet, in order to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. For example, crowdfunding has been used to fund open source live chat software, online services, music, independent films, charity and social enterprises.

A number of online crowdfunding and crowdlending websites are available that can be used to raise funds for specific projects or for charitable work. A number of websites are described below:

An entrepreneur seeking seed funding for a new venture, who has not been successful sourcing funds through either government funding programs or through traditional angel investors or venture capitalists, could use crowdfunding from online communities to solicit pledges of small amounts of money from individuals who typically would not be professional financiers. The amounts pledged are usually so small people tend to support a venture that has the right value proposition for them. Confirming a threshold value also ensures that all pledges will not be used unless a threshold target amount is reached.

Crowdfunding, therefore, has the potential to help launch simple ideas through minimal investment, resulting in faster outcomes and the development of new products or services, particularly for social enterprises.

To your success!

Dr John Kapeleris

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In my previous company Panbio Ltd, one of the key success factors of the company was embedding innovation across the whole organisation and not limited to the R&D Department alone. One of the initiatives that I implemented to drive innovation in the organisation was the establishment of a Creativity Club. The main objective of the creativity club was to stimulate creative thinking in individuals and encourage the use of creative thinking tools to come up with new ideas, and to solve problems in the organisation and for our customers.

The original objectives that we brainstormed at our first creativity club at Panbio are outlined below:

The format and structure of the creativity club included the following:

  1. The creativity club was open to all employees of the organisation. Everyone was invited to deliver presentations, and to share their knowledge and experiences.
  2. The creativity club was held either at lunchtime or before work (lunch and breakfast were provided which was a great attraction for employees).
  3. The agenda of each meeting consisted of the following:
    1. Ice-breaker – each participant would be asked to describe a creative experience or reading since the last meeting (those participants that could not describe a creative experience would be asked to tell a joke – right brain thinking)
    2. Formal presentation – a theme was chosen as a focus of each creativity club including: Introduction to Creative Thinking, Serendipity vs Synchronicity, Idea Management, Creativity Tools, Imagination, Innovation case studies (3M, Dupont, Lotus Corporation, Ideo etc), Creative Problem Solving, Intuition, Chaos Theory, etc
    3. Informal discussion – this session included open discussion about the specific topic presented and the practical application of the learnings from the presentation
    4. Action planning – the creativity club concluded with the recording of action plans that each participant could take back to their department or functional area and implement
  4. The creativity club was modelled on the Dupont OZ Creative Thinking Network and the Parisian Salons (creative communities) of the 1920’s. The creativity club included a number of games and puzzles to stimulate the creative juices of participants. It also provided a fun environment conducive to the sharing of knowledge and ideas that could be further developed or implemented. A database was set up within the Knowledge Management system of the organisation to capture and record the presentations, knowledge, ideas, learnings, discussions and action plans arising from the creativity club.

The creativity club at Panbio also spawned the development of Creative Problem Solving Hit Teams. These teams consisted of cross-functional team members that would work on solving problems both inside and outside the organisation. When an internal functional area or an external customer could not solve a particular problem then a Creative Problem Solving Hit Team was deployed. The cross-functional nature of the team allowed a wider range of skill-sets to be incorporated in the team, providing a diverse perspective when investigating each problem. The team included people directly involved with the problem but also people who had never been exposed to the problem. Team members were also equipped with a variety of creative problem solving tools and resources. These teams became so effective that we started to provide this service beyond our existing clients and domain areas of expertise.

Enjoy!

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Invention refers to new concepts or products derived from an individual’s ideas or from scientific research. Innovation, on the other hand, is the commercialization of the invention itself” – Daniel Scocco

The words invention and innovation are sometimes used interchangeably. However, they are quite distinct, although not mutually exclusive. An invention is a new creation, device or process, derived from an individual’s ideas or from scientific research, while an innovation is the practical application or commercialization of a new idea or concept (it could be an invention) into something of value in the marketplace, whether it is a new product, process or organizational system. The creation or development of the invention alone does not translate to an innovation. The invention must create value for it to become a successful innovation. We find that many inventions that are patented do not result in successful innovations in the market, in society, in the community or in an organization.

Both invention and innovation begin with a creative process. A curious and open mind, that identifies an opportunity or makes a discovery, is the basis of developing an invention or an innovation. Inventors such as Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison and Shunpei Yamazaki have created a number of new inventions, but only a percentage of these have been successfully commercialized. For example, Leonardo da Vinci was a great inventor but he did not commercialize any of his inventions (e.g. the parachute, personal flying wing, military tank etc). Some of his inventions were successfully commercialized by others hundreds of years later.

 

It can be argued that the iPod is an innovation rather than just an invention, because it includes an innovative operating system, pleasing aesthetics, ease of use and a link to the online iTunes software providing value through a complete user experience. The early MP3 players, however, were simply inventions, some of which later became succesful innovations.

I have often wondered what have been the “Top 10 Inventions” of all time. Particularly inventions that have become significant innovations adding enormous value to humans and society. Following is my list of the top 10 inventions of all time (OK, maybe twelve):

  1. Steam engine
  2. Printing press
  3. Light bulb
  4. Telephone
  5. E=mc²
  6. Automobile/Airplane
  7. Penicillin
  8. Transistor/silicon chip
  9. Computers
  10. Laser

What are your “Top 10 Inventions” of all time?

Dr John Kapeleris

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“Theirs not to reason why, Theirs but to do and die.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Did you know that if you ask “Why?” three to five times you can identify the root cause of a problem or issue? Children often ask “Why?” because their curious and open mind is trying to explore how things work or they are trying to better understand their surrounding environment. As adults we tend not to ask “Why?” that often because we either have already formed our own preconceived perceptions or are afraid to challenge the status quo.

A Why-Why diagram can be used to identify the causes of a particular situation in a systematic way[1]. The Figure below shows an example of a Why-Why diagram. The problem statement is written on the left hand side and then by asking “Why?” a number of possible causes are identified. Asking “Why?” again leads us to further causes and finally to the root causes of  problem. Even though it is simple, this technique is very powerful because it looks at the overall problem as opposed to focusing on a single cause.

The example in the Why-Why Diagram above aims to solve the problem of poor sales relating to a particular product. In many organisations the result of poor sales of a product is usually perceived as poor performance of the Sales Manager and/or the Sales Team. The first inclination is to replace the Sales Manager and/or the Sales Team, however when this is done inconsiderately the result is typically the same – continuing poor sales. The organisation has failed to clearly identify the root cause of the problem. From the example above there can be a number of different reasons why a product has poor sales. The Why-Why Diagram provides a disciplined approach to explore all the possible causes of a problem and not to focus on a single preconceived possible cause.

Humans need to continue to ask “Why?” as a means of fulfilling the needs of their curious minds. We also have been given the freedom and opportunity to challenge the status quo in our society, in our environment, of our governments and in our working lives, otherwise we will become complacent and accept what we have been told by someone else.

As an exercise try applying the Why-Why Diagram technique to a problem you are facing in your personal or business life. You can use the template I have provided – Why-Why Template.

Dr John Kapeleris


[1] Higgins, J.A. (1994), 101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques, New Management Publishing Company, Florida

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