Have you faced challenges and encountered problems in your business? That’s a rhetorical question. If you’re in business then yes, you have had your fair share of difficulties. But did you know, most business problems come from a set of root causes.

For example, if your problem statement is “not achieving targets” and you come up with three reasons for this and continue to go deeper into the root cause, you’ll realise that it all boils down to only a few things that need to be changed. Sometimes it could be the lack of knowledge or a fear of losing customers.

The question that comes to mind is, how do we get to these root causes? The process can seem daunting and tedious but in reality it is very simple and quick.

The first step is to come up with a problem statement. Say you facing trouble with hiring a new team. Now, to get to the root of this problem, you have to ask “Why?”

When you ask why, you’re opening your brain to the possibility of a deeper problem rather than focusing on the very obvious symptom of the problem.

The rule is to ask why 5 times or until you come up with a statement that you can’t do anything about immediately. Say, if for a problem like “quality in service missing”,  “lack of knowledge” comes up at the end of 5 Whys as a root cause, the only thing you can do to solve the problem is acquire that knowledge in due time. This can be done either through training or a joint field work or an online course etc.

Now, you must be thinking that you can come up with hundreds of problem statements and you wouldn’t have the time to sit and go through the root process of root cause analysis for each of them. There are 2 solutions to that. First is to engage your team in this exercise so there is also a higher level of team engagement and there will be problems that they may know because they operate at a grass root level. Secondly follow the pareto’s principles and may be pick up top 20% of the problems which will cause 80% of the impact during the first phase and have an action plan to work on all problems in a phased manner.

The power of this exercise is that you are proactively deciding to take the problems head on and work with that awareness rather than brush it under the carpet as of now and then get into fire fighting mode.

What is the problem that you are going to deal with first?