Root Cause Analysis as a Professional and Personal Tool

Sep 01, 2020

11.3.2016

Why do you go to work? Looking past kneejerk responses based on positive affirmations or politically correct ideas, what is at the end of it? I think that my reasons for working are to get money and social validation. Don’t get me wrong, working primarily for these reasons does not in any way mean that I do not or cannot enjoy my job. I love to teach, translate, and write, and I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living.

That being said, my professional and personal lives are often separate. When I used to be a language teacher, my knowledge of advanced Spanish grammatical forms rarely played any role in my personal life. My wife even challenges me with, ‘’I thought you were a language expert’’, when she hears me shorten words or make an error in my speech. My reply? ‘’Don’t worry about it. I’m not working now. I’m off the clock.’’

When I started working with Pepe on the upcoming book Facilitative Leadership, I imagined a similar divide between the content of the book and my personal life. I’m not a business leader. Even more, I was not naturally drawn to the topic of business leadership principles and theory. Why would I be? I thought that the material covered in Facilitative Leadership would be of little relevance to my personal life. I now stand corrected.

A funny thing happened after a few weeks of working with Pepe on the book. I was beginning to think of some of the facilitative leadership techniques when I was living my personal life. In Facilitative Leadership, Pepe presents a tool called root cause analysis. The point of this tool is to look past the symptoms of a problem to find the underlying cause, called the root cause. The theory states that once this root cause has been identified, a complete picture of the problem will emerge and you will easily be able to decide what steps you should take to address the root cause, eliminating the unwanted symptoms of the problem along the way.

When we met one day over coffee to work on the book, Pepe explained to me how root cause analysis worked, and he walked me through it. He asked me for an undesirable symptom I was experiencing, so I told him about my constant struggle to get enough sleep. After applying the tool, which requires four or five levels of analysis, the identified root cause of my lack of sleep was that I wanted personal and professional validation.

HelloNo, I was not lying on a leather couch in a psychologist’s office when this happened, it was revealed using root cause analysis. I was still thinking about the unexpected root cause days later, and even began talking about root cause analysis with my wife. Instead of acting surprised and impressed by my new knowledge, she explained to me that the idea of finding the root cause of a symptom is something that she has been practicing in meditation, and that many principles of holistic medicine (such as healing the body by addressing the underlying memories which lead to negative emotions and illnesses as proposed by the popular author Alexander Loyd in his book Healing Codes) seem to match up well with the ideas and benefits of root cause analysis that I was excited about.

My long winded point? The guiding principles for successful leadership outlined in the book Facilitative Leadership extend beyond the context of business, and are relevant in other situations too, including my personal life. Needless to say, this was a very different result from what I originally thought.

Facilitative Leadership by Pepe Nummi presents the facilitative concepts behind effective leadership and explains in clear, practical terms how you can implement them in your professional and personal lives.

Andrew Ullom