Root-cause analysis is just a fancy-pants term for asking:
“What’s going on here?”
Getting to the root of something is what you need to do whenever you can’t think straight.
One of my absolute favorite methods to do this is something that children do ALL OF THE TIME.
In fact, ask why five times.
You don’t have to stop there–and children certainly don’t.
Here’s a business example:
Toyota, the world-renowned car manufacturer, actually uses the Five Why’s Method as part of their actual business operations.
The company got to where it is today because of business practices developed from clear thinking.
That clear thinking is then implemented with extreme focus and clear direction.
And here’s an example from a fictitious man I’ll call Tony Taco.
Tony Taco is struggling with his family.
He doesn’t think they understand him, and he doesn’t know why he can’t get his point across.
Every time he tries, the thoughts just don’t come together.
He’s rushing into arguments, and he always loses.
So he starts to ask why five times:
Why am I struggling so much with my family?
Because I’m misunderstood.
Why am I misunderstood?
Because no one gets me.
Why does no one get me?
Well, because maybe I don’t explain myself well.
Why don’t I explain myself well?
To think of it, because I don’t actually think much about what I’m going to say before I rush over for family dinner.
Well, why don’t I actually think about what I’m going to say?
Because I have way too much going on in my own life, and I’m not making any quiet time for reflection.
And so Tony Taco decides to set aside some time for him, just to reflect on what he is feeling. It’s not actually his family’s problem. They might be part of it. But more than likely, it’s his personal approach to dealing with his own life situation.
While this is a silly example with a guy named Taco, it illustrates a powerful concept.
If you can’t think straight, the answer isn’t out there. It’s already within you.
A root-cause analysis process, such as asking Why five times, can be life-changing.
So, to sum it all up, thinking straight is about getting going in a clear direction, in as direct a way as possible.
The odd thing is, to go forward, you often need to first go within.
But if you take the time to search the canyons of your mind, the road out of the darkness becomes clear.
Like a spring-loaded Jack-in-the-Box, you must turn the wheels of your mind before your thoughts can burst forward and take you where you need to go.