Gardening has been a big part of civilization for over ten thousand years. Since all of us rely on it to live, it’s hard to overstate how important agriculture is to humanity.
No surprise then that, when a weed or other undesirable growth appears in our garden, we make great efforts to eliminate the problem weed. We also know that we have to pull it out by the roots, otherwise the problem weed comes back.
Hence the term, getting to the root of a problem.
Business deals with problems all the time. These problems are very tangible within industry where machines are used and built. Problems show up in a physical form, and can be annoying, or catastrophic. Large firms have collapsed because of some problem that wasn’t caught until too late.
For that reason, most companies use a system that actively looks for problems before the customer sees them. And when that problem shows up, the company starts asking questions. Who, what, why, when, where, are all part of the mix. But there is one question that rules them all.
What is the ultimate source of this problem? What is the root cause?
Some companies ask “why?” as many times as it takes. Some companies “drill down.” In all cases, management understands that unless you find the deep reason mistakes are made, they will happen again. This system works, and the most successful companies adhere to these principles tightly.
Why don’t we do the same thing as people regarding social and behavioral problems?
Pick a problem, any problem. Abortion. Gun violence. Drug use. Electing dictators. Confusion over truth and lies.
Now, think about how we currently “handle” the problem in society. Here in the USA, they are usually ignored, with the barest superficial form of action being taken in order to stave off public unrest. Until the next time.
No one asks the hard questions, and certainly no one dares go beyond those to even harder questions.
Abortion: Why does a young woman get pregnant in the first place? Where is the father? Where are the other family members? Will society take care of this child once it’s been born?
Gun Violence: Why must the entire US population be allowed to carry lethal firearms? Are the current restrictions sufficient? (Babies can’t buy guns, and you can’t take them into Congress for some reason.)
Drug Use: Why are users and their pushers always caught, but never the boss, bosses boss, or higher? Why are the corporations that ultimately make many of these drugs immune from retribution. Why can’t low-lethality versions be designed and de-regulated for general use, obviating the need to import deadly versions? Why are so many people using them anyway?
I don’t want to keep boring you, but you get the point. Ask questions. Dig. Then dig deeper. You may not like what you find. But when you eventually pull that weed from your garden, you can rest. You’ll know it shouldn’t be coming back.