Why? — it’s an interesting question. We’re always asking ourselves why this happens or why that happens. In fact, “why” is often the reason we need to ask questions in business to dig deeper to get to something we want or need to know. “Why” is often the inquisitive first step in getting to the root cause of problems that arise in our everyday course of business. Identifying the root cause is one of the most important processes in business. It’s the foundation of not only fixing a problem, but also for teaching, training and mentoring others to prevent future problems.

Good companies versus great companies

Good landscape companies fix problems, while great landscape companies get to the root cause of why the problems happened in the first place and work hard to prevent them from happening again.

There are often six common problem-solving errors that occur in good companies:

  1. These companies tend to focus on blaming people first.
  2. If they conduct root cause analysis, these companies typically focus on finding one cause and no solution.
  3. These companies often consider a problem description and problem analysis the same thing.
  4. These companies often apply buzzwords instead of dealing with the basics of cause-and- effect.
  5. These companies often use select problem-solving tools or techniques for select circumstances.
  6. These companies often fix the problem, but only temporarily — the Band-Aid solution.

We call these activities within these type of companies “blame cultures.” They pervade company culture because blame is easy.

By contrast, great companies overcome the aforementioned errors by learning why problems happen and then developing solutions to prevent them. Armed with this knowledge, both managers and employees can improve problem-solving within most, if not all, areas of the organization.

For instance, if a mistake happens at work, and company procedures and work processes are clear and equipment is performing as it should, this type of environment should encourage employees to think what they can do to prevent the problem from happening again. This helps increase accountability within the organization on its own.

For this to happen it requires all employees to be able to tell management when a procedure is ineffective or unclear. “Following a procedure” does not mean “disengage your brain.” A procedure should clearly identify specific steps learned through experience, and that experience comes from employees who follow the procedure. They know their jobs better than anyone. If they feel they can’t speak freely and suggest alternative ways of doing things, procedure will never evolve to meet an organization’s goals. Every person on the payroll must feel they can identify what is going well and what is going poorly.

Solution: To change the culture of an organization, you must start with one small problem, get results and repeat the process. Focus on the problem, work on ways to prevent it by identifying the causes, and have the people involved with the event offer specific suggestions, including what specific changes to the work processes they think would prevent the issue from happening again.

Remember to ask why

There are many things an organization can do to simplify and improve the way it analyzes documents, communicates and solves problems. Ultimately, avoiding the buzzwords and sticking to a simple, fundamental approach to cause-and-effect can help transform a company’s problem-solving efforts by simply asking why over and over until you get to the root cause of what happened, why it happened and how will you prevent it from happening again.