As a leader, you grow to either welcome or loath two specific words – NOW and WHY. The boss wants it now and and ‘why’ is the question you ask your team when they cannot deliver. All to often delivery under a tight deadline entails the leader attempting to quickly and often inaccurately asses the ‘situation’. Generally the results are added cost and lower productivity. 

How many times has the easy answer revolved around scalability? Just add another shift, bring in more temps, turn up the air pressure, add more chemical, cut corners….

When the boss screams ‘NOW’ – Good leaders can become very poor leaders very quickly. Hence the crucial importance of Root Cause Analysis. Great leaders know that their core role is to focus the team. Root Cause Analysis and the data that supports it – drives clear focus. 

Shooting from the hip has a place in business but generally not repetitive operations. In fact, multiple guess and supposition can very quickly become quite costly. Additionally, more times than not – bringing in an expert is often slower that simply using a disciplined approach to query your teams. 


It’s not magic. It’s a method. The most simple of which is just asking why 5 times. Try it sometime when the machine doesn’t produce the numbers it should. Make sure to ask the team, not the leaders. 


When you find out why – TRACK THE FREQUENCY. Simple tic sheets are a great way to visualize just how great the opportunity is. 


Do not discuss solutions with the teams of the staff until they provide concrete data. Teach your teams to provide data illustrating the problem and teach them to use the same data to prove the problem is resolved.