Thursday, January 24, 2008

What did you fix?

Joel Spolsky has a great post about problem solving over on his blog. The post is a fun read for geeks but no normal person will get through the first few paragraphs. This is unfortunate as the real salient advice comes towards the end of his post. To solve his problem,
...we borrowed an idea from Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota. He calls it Five Whys. When something goes wrong, you ask why, again and again, until you ferret out the root cause. Then you fix the root cause, not the symptoms.
This is fantastic advice for any business. How often do we only work on solving the symptoms of a real problem? How often do we only ask why once when we are trying to figure out customer behavior?

All businesses should ask why more often when they are looking to fix problems - not just problems with hardware or software, but problems with marketing strategy, business partnerships, and sales pipeline issues.

Did you ask why today?
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