Episode 7

TOC Thinking Processes & Root Cause Analysis : Going Beyond 5 “Why”s! (Part 2)

Category :  Thinking Process

If we can identify the problem, we can solve it! However, the challenge with most root cause analysis techniques is that it is difficult to tell if you have reached the real root cause or not, especially since after some layers, data may not be available to observe the causal entity directly. So, most analyses are unknowingly limited to a superficial point! TOC Thinking takes a very different and much deeper approach to reach the core issue involved.

Listen to this episode as a continuation of the first part on Thinking Processes philosophy and learn why a mindset of 'synthesis' is imperative to find the core conflict of a system and to design breakthrough solutions.

Part 1 to this episode: https://anchor.fm/counterpoint-podcast/episodes/Ep6-TOC-Thinking-Processes-A-toolkit-for-thinking-clearly-Part-1-e139nj9

Shubham Agarwal : If you look at all the great insights, they actually look very obvious in hindsight, after the explanation is put on the table. People feel that, you know, I should have thought about it before. In fact, how do you know that the insight is great. Insight is great when it develops this kind of a feeling. The best example is, you know, when? When was the wheel invented? It was way back in 3500 BC, right? Okay. And when was luggage or a suitcase invented? You know, the date? It was around the late 19th century? Now, do you know when was? When was the idea of putting wheels onto a luggage? invented?

it is in 1970. Every grade inside, if you see, when you look at it, you always feel that we should have thought about it before. That’s the feeling that all great insights provide.

Satyashri Mohanty : But you still didn’t answer my question as in how did the company miss seeing the obvious?
Shubham Agarwal : if you look at all great insights, they are like discoveries, Like, it’s like you, you dig, dig the ground, and and then you find a pot of gold. After finding the pot of gold, you find out that oh, my God, I should have dug up that place straightaway. And I would have got the gold, why did I you know, dig all over the place. And that’s what insight as well, once you define a problem in a insightful way .Once you put on the table, people start feeling you know, why did it take so long?

What is the meaning of insightful definition of problem? Can you give an example.

Shubham Agarwal : Interesting. So in the case studies that we go through, you know, it strongly comes out that regular retail schemes are damaging to the company’s growth is what we have is what I have read through these case studies that we have at Vector, why do you claim that?
Satyashri Mohanty : Let’s say you’re going to the doctor, okay. Okay. I’m giving you a scenario, which is not business like just to explain the point here. You go to a doctor, and you say, I’m having problems of headache. I’m having problem of fever. I’m having sleepless nights. I’m having shivers. Right. Now, you say all this, you’re stating a problem that, you know, Doctor also knows about it. There’s no insight here. You’re just stating what you’re experiencing. what does the doctor do, the doctor spend some time analyzing and then he reaches a conclusion that all of these problems that you have stated, they’re not the real problem. In fact, they are symptoms, the real issue is that you are having an infection, which is a malarial infection, you are having an, everything is emanating from here. Now, this is where the insight comes in that now, the insight here is everything else that you described are symptoms, and here is the root cause, why it is insightful because if why is the root cause the symptoms vanish on their own, I don’t have to deal with the symptoms directly, unless they are very bad, but I don’t have to deal with the symptoms directly, I just need to address the root cause. So when you look at a set of problems, and you are able to find out what are the symptoms, and what is the core problem or the root cause, this is where I put the insight onto the table.

Subham : But why should it take time. In this case, the organizations was facing the problem for pretty long time, you said.

If you see all organizations, they have a typical way of looking at problems. if they look at a problem in a specific department, they try to find the solution or or they try to intervene in that area itself in that department itself. For example, let me give you a scenario that there is, let’s say a problem of productivity in a sales team. Right? Okay. Where will intervene in the sales department or in the production department.

Satyashri Mohanty
I would typically go into the sales department and look at, you know, how are the people in the sales department performing or not? But what I’m sensing that the obvious is not the answer here.
Shubham Agarwal : Let’s say you want to look for a solution? Where will you look for a solution? Where will you intervene? Is the sales department or you go? No, no, no, let me go and streamline production?
Satyashri Mohanty
No, I think it will be the sales department.
Satyashri Mohanty
Correct. That’s, that’s a typical thinking. So let’s say in this example, we go and find out that why there is a productivity issue, and you find out because the sales person are supposed to be doing selling. Now, when I look at their transactions and find out most of the time, these people are actually not spending in selling activities, they are actually following up for production, expediting, following up on orders right, this is really find out the topic of productivity of sales is linked to where the manufacturing is working, right? If I have to improve productivity, I have to actually intervene in production, streamline the production in such a way that the wasteful activities that the salesperson is doing, it just goes away, the ability becomes productive. Right?

Oh this is wonderful

Now this way of looking at problems without wearing a departmental hat, is very important for you to get an insight around the problem, which is which is what which is trying to find out the root cause because the root cause you see a problem in department x the root cause, might lie somewhere else.

Satyashri Mohanty
Right. And I think in companies, you know, people with departmental hats is a very, very given thing, because, you know, everyone looks at their own universe, which is their own department or their own sphere of influence, basically,
Satyashri Mohanty
Look at the structure, who’s the guy who’s not wearing a departmental hat

the CEO or the guy at the top

Satyashri Mohanty
Right, and he’s the, the busiest guy. And he cannot get into day to day management of looking at issues and looking at interconnection he is the busiest guy who’s not wearing the departmental hat. Everybody else is just wearing a departmental hat. And if they wear a departmental hat, they would not look at problems and their interconnections between the departments like the exactly the way the doctor did. They will not do that. Even if they don’t do that, you will miss seeing the obvious.
Satyashri Mohanty
Okay, so Satya this sounds great. I think the tool or thinking processes in itself is very useful and helpful in getting breakthrough innovations or you know, a lot more things. But, you know, a common problem with such tools or with such philosophies, new philosophies is that where do I start? What’s the step one, no one tells that. So, tell us, where do we start from here? How do we start on this using thinking processes?
Satyashri Mohanty
Yeah Shubham, before we start learning the grammar of various tools, there are about six to seven tools that we can learn during the series of the podcast. But before that, let’s try to understand few basics and and if you get those basics right then it becomes easier to learn those tools. Now, one of the ways to understand very clearly is that it is not our default mode of thinking,

Question : Why do you claim so ?

if you see most of us are are inductive thinkers. When I say inductive thinkers, we use inductive logic a lot. What is inductive logic? It is from the specifics I try to generalize when somebody says don’t generalize is just saying don’t apply inductive thinking. Right? For example, I see a Swan A which is white in color, I see Swan B which is white in color, and I conclude that all swans are white, I see a terrorist from a particular community, I see another terrorist from the same community, then I start concluding that, you know, all the people in this community are terrorists. So this is inductive thinking.

Comment : This way of pattern based thinking of generalizations can be problematic.

there are problems in inductive thinking. it’s not good for problem solving. Now let’s see how inductive thinking can be at fault. So, let’s say you want to find out a theory about being a successful organization, when I say successful organization, let’s say organization, been very profitable, very good on on the return or to the shareholders and to everybody in the society. So you pick up those 10 out companies like that and you find out what is common amongst them. Now, I find out that there are 10 things that these companies do date, which is common. And I said this is the recipe to be this kind of a company, a company which is built to last. Do you see any problem in this theory? I found out 10 companies,. And I tried to generalize a theory saying that guys, if you do this your company will be very successful. You see any problem there?

Satyashri Mohanty
Not sure if we can generalize the learnings. I think we need to also check if there are companies which followed the principles and went bankrupt or did not survive.
Satyashri Mohanty
Yeah, the way to do it is actually use what we call as a deductive logic. Now, what a deductive logic is saying that if you these principles leads to these successful companies, what do I also expect to see that all companies, right, which are let’s say dead, now, there should not be companies which followed this it cannot happen right? If I say this will lead to success, successful organization, I cannot have that somebody followed these principles and and went bankrupt, bankrupt. Yeah.

Yeah should not the case.

Okay, is it like, there are actually 100 companies which followed this principle and went bankrupt.

Shubham Agarwal : in that case we cannot claim the theory of valid. So I see what you did, you deduced from the theory of successful organizations, that there cannot be cases of failed organizations which followed the rule, yet failed.
Satyashri Mohanty
Yeah now let’s look at the other other check that I need to do. How many more successful companies that were that were there, which you have not selected in your sample, they never followed this, but were successful.

Oh yes that is another deduction you are doing. from the generic rule or theory , you deducing what to expect as specifics. This is total oppositive of the inductive process, where from specific , I am generalizing the theory or the rule.

deduction is the only way to establish causality

If you use deductive logic you are very sure of causality
an event A happens before event B? Does it mean that A caused B?

Not necessarily. So as you are saying deduction helps us get rid of false causality.

what deduction does is helps you falsify your your theories that you have in your mind, and by that you will understand the cause and effect of the environment. And remember, understanding cause and effect of the environment is very, very important for problem solving. So inductive thinking cannot help us reach to the real cause and effect.

Shubham Agarwal : So, as I see deductive logic is fundamental to critical thinking and this also helps overcome biases.
Satyashri Mohanty
deductive thinking means you have to really use a lot of your cognitive resources. It’s, it’s actually a load on your brain. It is. It is like exercising your brain nobody wants to you know do a lot of mental exercise, this is doing that. Right. And the mode is to be on the lazy side, the lazy side, seeing a pattern is seeing the horses in the cloud, right? Seeing a pattern you may or may not be right.
Shubham Agarwal : Sure, definitely I’m, I’m already wanting to ask you as to how do we start learning the deductive logic.
Satyashri Mohanty
deductive logic also focuses on good verbalization. What kind of definitions that I’m using. Right? So it takes a lot of efforts on verbalization. It relies less on data. More on how we think properly, how do we define things. How do we label things all those are very, very critical in in learning deductive logic, inductive is very, very data driven, deductive is thinking driven. Right. Problem Solving, as I said, requires a right thinking approach, less of data,
Shubham Agarwal : Right. Wonderful. Great. So we’ll delve into those topics as well in our next episode, and come back and have a deep down discussion on this.

Thank you. Thanks a lot Satya.


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