Why was I thinking about horses during the morning commute to the office? Where was the Sheriff and would he be able to help? Why was I thinking in cowboy language? I decided to search Google for the answers. Here’s what I found…
It was another dull morning commute to the office. Cars were backed up for miles as usual as we slowly rolled towards the busy interchange. Slowly but surely I arrived at the give way line and waited for the traffic lights to signal me on. That was when the thought erupted into my head. “Holy shit sheriff, the horses have gone plum loco!” I sat shocked and wide eyed to have just thought something like that. It was as if I’d been momentarily possessed by the loud American Chicken in Tom & Jerry. I drove on to the office with a new found sense of purpose. I needed some answers.
I decided to apply a model called the 5 Whys that I had learnt during some Lean Six Sigma Training. The principle of the model is that you ask the question ‘why?’ related to your problem until you have drilled down into 5 layers of detail. Had I been possessed or simply gone mad? Maybe there was a mad horse galloping around at the interchange and I’d caught it on my periphery vision. Whatever the answer, this detailed mode of thinking was sure to dig it out. I fired up Google and typed in the question. Here’s how the conversation went…
Why did I think, “Holy Shit Sheriff, the horses have gone plum loco?”
Initially Google just returned a lot of forum entries by kids who started their statements with the term, “Holy Shit!” None of those foul mouthed kids really said anything that I found to be of any consequence. Scrolling on, Google listed information about horses. There was even an entry from someone who worked with horses saying how the horse icons in some Nintendo game were extremely life like. None of this was really helping.
Considering my thought itself to be somewhat random, I decided to ask Google about random thoughts.
Q: Why did I have such a random thought?
A: People have random thoughts when they are trying to solve a problem.
At last we seemed to be getting somewhere. I tried to consider the problem I might be trying to solve. Again, I was drawing a blank. I hadn’t read or watched any Westerns lately. I had no issue with any Sheriff or even Law Enforcement in general. I was really pretty law abiding and mostly bored. As to horses, or mad horses, I’m neither interested in, or concerned about horses in general. Where you always see the odd bit of madness among the drivers in the morning commute, there’s nothing particularly horse like about it. Time for more questioning to go a level deeper into the detail.
Q: Why not just think about the problem directly and then consider solutions?
A: ‘Solution Only’ thinking creates a Culture of Advocacy rather than a Culture of Enquiry.
So I shouldn’t just say the answer is 4. Somehow I should wonder why it’s 4 or maybe even if it’s 4? I should explore everything about 4 what it is and what it means. Seemed a bit long winded and clouded with doubt.
Q: Why is a Culture of Enquiry better?
A: A culture of enquiry motivates a climate of trust and validation where we understand the value of questions.
Starting to feel like I’m not getting anywhere again. A climate of trust and validation sounds very comfortable. Kind of like going back to bed. I’ve never really found any answers in bed. Not any that I would care to discuss in public anyway. Maybe I need to turn the mattress. Maybe I need a new mattress. I started to stress about the idea that something was not right with my bed and yet here I was in the office unable to do anything much about it. Deep down I knew there was more to this than the bed. Just so many questions.
Q: Why consider the value of questions when, what I’m trying to find is an answer?
A: Questions support the exchange of ideas. They fuel learning and performance improvement.
So now I’m in the deepest depths of Google and it seems I’m getting ever further from any answers. Instead such guru’s as Wikapedia or even the business genius of the Havard Business Review are extolling the value of asking lots of questions. Promoting the ‘adventure’ of finding answers but NOT in fact OFFERING ANY BLOODY ANSWERS!
Q: Why does none of the above provide any answers?
A: What is the question that doesn’t have an answer?
I screamed and swore at Google. The voice App on my mobile picked the profanity up and initiated it’s own search. In the end my mobile swore back at me 10,000s of times in about 6 different languages. As my monitor lay on the floor and flustered staff tried to restrain me from kicking my laptop, I screamed at them that the horses had gone plum loco and no one seemed to know why!