Last month, we conducted a ReVision for a Cleveland company that came to us with a serious problem. In our PreView, we worked through the problem and, in less than an hour, we had two very good solutions. We all felt good about both options and resolved to carry those into the ReVision session the next day. Clearly, it was going to be a short session. After all, we had solved the problem, right?
The next day, solutions in hand, we started the ReVision. First we uncovered some of the obstacles in the way of solving their problem and clearly identified the steps to clear those obstacles. Then, the magic happened… just as it always does.
The problem, it turns out, was not really the problem.
Over the next two hours, it became clear that the initial problem was not really the most important issue facing this business. It was equally clear that unless the real problems were solved, nothing else would matter. Revelation in hand, we were able to create a new strategy and a plan to implement that strategy.
It’s not unusual.
Upwards of 90% of the time, companies are working to solve the wrong problem. It happens in big companies. It happens in small ones. It happens all the time. Peter Drucker identified it as a frequent cause of failure.
It’s easy for a company to get caught up in the process or the “plan of the day” and forget what Einstein meant when he said, “We can’t solve problems using the same thinking we used when we created them.”
It’s not just getting “outside the box” or thinking differently. It’s asking the questions that get you above and beyond the “box” so you can see the proverbial forest for the trees. The best managers, the most innovative entrepreneurs, the smartest people, ask the simplest question. “Why?”
Yes. The question is “Why?”
Ask “Why?” because it is the one question that gets to the heart of strategy and confirms that you are on the right track. When you question why you are doing a thing, or using a certain approach, or tackling a certain issue, the answer(s) can make all the difference between success and failure.