Did you know “Five Whys” can work in reverse?
When you’re trying to find the “most rootest” of root causes for a situation or problem, the Five Whys technique is an excellent tool to help you see past the surface level symptoms. For each cause you uncover to explain why something happened, you’re invited to go deeper and ask, “…and what caused THAT to happen?”
It’s a great tool to explore ever deeper in the past to help you figure out the beginning of the chain of unfortunate events so you can work to prevent it from happening again.
But it’s also a great tool for exploring the future.
✋I want to be a manager!
❓That’s cool. What will being a manager do for you?
✋I’ve been here for five years already. Becoming a manager will show that I’m making progress.
✋Well, me, I guess, for one. But also the other people on the larger team.
❓And when the other people see you’re making progress, what will be the benefit of that?
✋Well, then they’ll actually listen when I say that something is a problem or needs to be done differently.
Becoming a manager wasn’t really the person’s goal; it was only the process they saw to get to the goal. The goal was to be heard and to have an impact.
As a leader you may set up metrics to gauge compliance to a process, when what’s really important is the outcome you expect to get from that process.
But as your team matures, and as you advance in your leadership career, your ability to share the ultimate goal and vision will be far more important than your ability to prescribe the right process.
Mistaking the process for the goal is one of the biggest contributors to micromanagement.
So before you give a new directive, try asking the Five Whys in reverse, and inspire your team toward the real goal you want to achieve.