Monday, October 27, 2014

Into the Wilderness

It is beyond my comprehension how anyone in this field of root cause analysis cannot wonder about the most fundamental questions of life.  We all know that the incidents we investigate have causes, that is, there are reasons why things go wrong.  In other words, none of us have ever investigated anything without coming to the conclusion that the things that go wrong in our lives happen for a reason. 
Recently, my personal thoughts have taken me to the subject of “the wilderness.”  I suppose that all of life is a step into the wilderness.  We either make large, intentional steps into the unknown by embarking on huge new ventures, or we simply get out of bed in the morning for another new day. 

 Whatever our present circumstances in life, we’re all the same when it comes to our journeys.  Whether we like it or not, we’re all stepping into the unknown.

Imagine, for a moment, that you are literally in a wilderness setting.  Let’s say you have slept in a tent, and have gotten up in the morning to embark on a 5 mile hike to a glacier in Alaska.  You are with a friend, because it’s dangerous to go into the wilderness on your own.  You have firearms, in case you encounter dangerous wildlife but you are out of range of any cell phone towers.

Although the above scenario is a specific one, all of life is like this in one form or another.  The “tent” is our beds that we sleep in overnight.  The 5 mile hike is our plan for the day.  The friend is “the people around us,” and the “firearms” are whatever we have chosen to take along with us to keep us safe.

But what would you make of it if you were were hiking to the glacier and you suddenly felt a severe pain in your chest, or if you turned your ankle on a rock, or if a boulder suddenly came rolling down a hill and destroyed all of your gear?

What do you make of it when you set out on your journey and significant things go wrong along the way?  Do you say to yourself “I probably should not have gone on this journey in the first place,” or “I was not sufficiently prepared -- I’ll be more prepared next time?”  

Or is something much more profound going on when we encounter unexpected, unplanned pain along our life’s journey’s?

As for myself, I have concluded that there is something much more profound going on -- and I think I’ve discovered what it is.  And yet, I have learned not to share my personal conclusions with too many people.  My understandings are mine.  Your understandings are yours.  I cannot force my understandings on you, nor would I want to.  In this respect, those of you who have taken the 4-day Latent Cause Experience class know my position on these things:  the people who have experienced pain while embarking on their wilderness journeys need to come to their own conclusions.cracks
But I would like to share the following quote byMalcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990).  When I first read it, I dismissed it as lunacy.  But the older I get, the more wisdom I see in it.  Think about it.  Dwell in it.  It might help you change the way you see things.
Looking back on life, it’s one of the things that strike you most forcibly – that the only thing that’s taught one anything is suffering, pain and failure.  Not success, not happiness, not anything like that.  The only thing that really teaches what life is about – the joy of understanding, the joy of coming in contact with what life really signifies – is suffering, affliction.
The unexpected pain that comes along in all of our lives seems to eventually drive us away from the world around us and deeper into ourselves, into an either conscious or subconscious quest that looks for answers nowhere else to be found.  Isn’t that, in itself fascinating?  Not to be morbid, but I wonder what was going on in the minds (or souls) of my mother or father as they laid on their death beds?  Never having been there, I don’t know.  But I have experienced debilitating setbacks in my life, both physical and emotional, and I know where my mind went.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.  (Kahlil Gibran)
As we walk along the wilderness journeys of our lives, we will experience unexpected and unplanned pain.  Pain is the only phenomena of life capable of getting our attention when we are too wrapped up in our own self-created agendas.  When it comes, it is trying to tell us something profound.  
Those of us dealing with Latent Cause or Root Cause Analysis are dealing with one of the most potentially impactful exercises of life.  
Don’t squander it!

Learn More About Latent Cause Analysis

If you are keen to step out of the wilderness, we have built a checklist for you.  The following path has been developed to help individuals like you to get up to speed in becoming a champion, a fighter and a game changer.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Are you Clean or Dirty?

Are You Clean or Dirty?

I have recently been exposed to the concepts of “Just Culture” and “Clean Language.”  These two differing concepts have one thing in common.  They are both apparently nested within Failsafe’s Latent Cause Analysis process, and I didn’t even know it!
The way I had become exposed to these concepts were through people that had attended The Latent Cause Experience.  Two Anchorage, AK attendees approached me during a break saying:  “Do you know you’re embracing Just Culture?”  Two Houston, TX attendees did the same thing, this time asking:  “Do you know you are using Clean Language techniques?”  I’ll discuss more about “Clean Language” in this blog, and then “Just Culture” in a future blog.mistakes
One of the two Houston attendees was a woman named Sharon Small.  I had met Sharon a few months earlier at a Nuclear Power conference and invited her to The Latent Cause Experience.  Sharon has embraced concept of “Clean Language,” a concept pioneered by the late David Grove, and is developing a business around it.  
As Sharon went through the class, she became more and more convinced that Failsafe’s “Latent Cause Analysis” is “clean” -- very clean. I am greatly indebted to Sharon for taking the time to make some notes about the similarities between Clean Language and LCA.  I have shared many of Sharon’s comments in the following paragraphs.  As you read them, please ask yourself “do we have a clean or dirty investigative process?”  Even more, you might ask yourself “am I a clean or dirty person?”  
Sharon’s comments:
LCA is trying to be “clean” when you ask the questions “what is it about the way we are” and “what is it about the way I am ..” without telling them the answer.  LCA suggests that the group looks at themselves and makes a determination from the evidence and self knowledge.  LCA lets the stakeholders come to their own conclusions. 
Do you try to shove your own opinions down people’s throats, or do you try to help them come to their own evidence-based conclusions?
Your standard interview questions are “clean,” which is an attempt to ask questions of another human being with the intention to neither contaminate or distort their answers - open and non-leading.  A clean “purpose” is an intervention that does not contaminate the other persons experience through our own suggestions or interpretations.  This can be harder to do than people think.  
When you question people, do you try to get them to tell you what you want to hear, or are you more interested in what they have to tell you, even if you don’t like what they are saying?
Your LCA approach is “non-directive,” which is totally aligned with the “clean” concept.  That is, the facilitator issues no instructions at the level of content.  This is related to not using a pre-determined theory or list when going into an analysis, or, as you say “letting the evidence guide you wherever it wants!”  
Do you find yourself wondering “is it this, or this, or this” instead of simply allowing the evidence to take you anywhere it wants?
Your approach is also “non-suggestive” in that the facilitator makes no recommendation or content advice.  This is related to your sharing the evidence and letting the stakeholders self identify (take ownership) and decide on their own corrective actions.  Your approach is also “non-intrusive,” in that the facilitator does not dispute or challenge what the other person might say - this is related to your interview process and allowing the person to simply tell what they know and think. It also pertains to letting the stakeholders be their own expert on their “system” (business, group, needs) and make their own determinations.  
Are you willing to let another human being come to their own conclusions, even if you think they are wrong (they might NOT be wrong), or are you going to try to force them to think the same way you think?
Clean models are language-based in that the facilitator does not supply a reinterpretation of what is said.  Clean models use the persons (or groups) own words and descriptions.  Using exact terminology from the client vs paraphrasing is important. Words are used for a reason and each change will make a difference in understanding.  You stress this in your comments about representing people, especially in your comments about “key quotes,” where you say “use their exact words when representing them.”  Your use of flip charts is also “clean.”  You record everything on flip charts for all the stakeholders to see.  This is so important.  
Do you find yourself re-wording, or paraphrasing almost everything people say, or do you consciously try to use their words -- and even try to understand why they used the words they used?
The “clean concept” recognizes that people (or groups of people) are self organizing systems.  Behavior is, therefore, understandable.  Your Golden Rule of LCA stresses that we need to understand so so deeply, that it is hard to imagine doing anything differently than the person or process in question.  
Do you care why people do what they do, or are you more interested in blame?
The “clean concept” constitutes a radical change to our traditional and frequently manipulative habits.  Most other methods of cause analysis have a convincing element to do with their perceptions and determinations vs the people sorting it out for themselves.  “Clean” suggests that a “less is more” approach is better, but people have such a hard time with this.  I see this in therapists and coaches - it is very difficult for them to reduce what they are doing.  They always think that a new tool, trick or technique is just what’s needed and in a way deferring attention away from the clients own internal resources and capabilities. It is a subtle distinction that is difficult for many people to really understand until they have had the experience of it.  
Do you tend to look for the newest techniques, gimmicks, and fads to help you with your problems instead of realizing that "less is more?"  If so, you might want to look back at what you have done and ask yourself “have I made things worse instead of better with all this stuff?”

I have a feeling that I will be working with Sharon in the future.  I sense she has a lot to offer.  If you are interested in learning more about “Clean Language,” or in contacting Sharon Small, please click on the links.
Thank you, Sharon, for sharing your thoughts.