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Blog 319: Root Cause vs Symptoms


Focusing inward and investing your precious time, energy and money in internal improvements that allow you to become more productive and/or pursue external opportunities more efficiently is an excellent investment.


You probably wouldn’t be surprised to know how much time business owners make rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic, avoiding but courting collision.


When something isn’t working. When the results are not there. When you constantly put out the same fires, you manage the symptom, not the disease. This happens to all businesses regardless of their size or tenure.


Stop.


Address and fix the issue once and for all by dealing with the root of the problem and not getting distracted by symptoms. You may need some help from a business advisor or a trusted mentor. If you try and do it all yourself, chances are you do not have the objectivity to get to the root of an issue.


Years ago, I was told that to find the root cause, I had to ask ‘Why?’ five times, and it has always worked. An easy example …


We don’t get enough new clients.

Why?

Because we don’t get any referrals.

Why?

Because our clients don’t feel like we deserve them …

Why?

Because we are too ordinary

Why?

Because we do commoditized work that everyone else does too

Why?

Because we have never really sat down and got honest about the work we do, want to do, for whom and how we will do it.

Why? (We’re now at six, by the way)

Because we don’t know how to have that conversation, it makes us uncomfortable, and we avoid it, hoping everything gets better.


So what’s the problem? That they don’t get any new clients or that the business doesn’t know how to innovate and implement meaningful, lasting change?

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