Rule #4 Ask why 5 times

Let’s get right to it, this can be very annoying to that stressed out, business internal/external customer. I have seen by the 3rd why a quick outburst of ‘just do it!’.

 

However, this not the root cause analysis tools defined on 5 Whys Wikipedia. This is for managers to use with their teams. Normally you do not get yelled at by your team (unless you have Dcat or Rees working for you). So, don’t worry about that too much.

 

The concept of asking why 5 times is to broaden an individuals view of the problem and solution they are presenting. As a manager to ensure they fully understand the problem and are not solving a symptom. That is the tactical reason for asking why 5 times.

 

The cultural reason is to help –

Why #

Eliminate Behavior

Foster Behavior

1

Only seeing to the end of the nose of the problem Questioning their own conclusions and assumptions

2

Reacting to the “oh that’s it” emotion of thinking they have solved the problem on to have you shoot them down Leverage the relationships they have with fellow team members to bounce their solutions off of

3

Once they have a problem solved, stop thinking Develop multiple solutions, pros/cons of each and evaluate, then recommend

4

Being technology people working for a business Come at the problem from other sides, putting yourself in the business and realizing one solution that is always there is ‘do nothing’

5

Thinking that this problem is not connected to any other problem Learning how to explain the problem and solution to the business in their language

 

For teams that have been firefighters (reacting instead of responding) in the pressure driven world of IT support, you as a manager need to utilize rule #4 to make the firefighting effective, not just efficient as demonstrated by tickets being closed. Effective by analyzing the problem in more detail and offer options, not just ‘a’ solution, but options with doing nothing the easiest one to offer up first or last.

 

Problems are costing money where solutions are saving or making money.    

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Rule #3 ask three times to get to a yes

 

That is not to say that you could not get a yes on the first try, but let’s go over a little about the psychology responding to change that your request, proposal or demand is creating.

1st is a defensive no    

The natural reaction to a change is deny it. Therefore, the human nature response of those who are not as self-aware of their emotional intelligence is to shake there head and just explain why no is the right answer.

 

 

 

 

2nd is a no not right now

– The second no is not related to emotional intelligence, but rather real emotion of fear. Most businesses have many initiatives, projects, activities and thus changes going on at once. You are requesting not just a NEW change, but an additional change. How could we possibly do this additional ‘thing’ with all the other ‘things’ we are doing.

 

 

 

3rd no is the one that really means it, that is the one you really need to have your ducks in a row    

  • So, now whomever is the approving stakeholder (your boss, a CFO, a CEO, a C- or VP of something or other) is realizing that you are annoying and not going to give up on this request. So, now they give it some serious thought. Look at your data, compare it to other priorities, see how it aligns to the strategy and looks for conflicts with budget, resources and other activities.

 

 

 

 

Do you get a yes, well it of course depends on your presentation, their analysis, the politics, the weather, and whether that damn butterfly is flapping is darn wings somewhere. However, it is the first real chance to get that hard yes.

Beware the first time you ask getting a yes, because they will expect you to be ready to go.

Some other thoughts on yes –

Dean Rieck

How Negotiators get to yes: 
Psychology Today: Here to Help

 

 

 

 

Rule #2 – There is always more money there is never more time – reposted

I originally posted this in November 2010, but as it is formally rule #2, it will follow rule #1.

The phrase ‘time is money’ holds evermore true in the global economy where time zones have been removed as constraints to commerce. Even in our global depressed economy there is not fair balance between time and money.

Regardless, of your time management techniques, methodologies or process discipline you cannot –

  • Create
  • Save
  • Make
  • Manage
  • or Control

TIME.

Anyone who professes to, is comparable to someone saying they can change the past or make a pitcher throw a strike in the instead of walking that first batter in the bottom of the ninth. Sorry, a distraction there regarding the current playoffs. However, you can create, save, make, manage and control MONEY. You can use what money you have now to make more. You can use save the money you have now to use later. But, most importantly, you can use money to have an activity take less time by getting the right expertise, quantity of staff or tools. So, to restart – there is NEVER more time, but there is ALWAYS more money. Yes, even now.

The value of time – 

This statement about money and time, I have used during my career to help guide me on decisions. Whether the decision regarded hiring, firing, budget allocations or what client to work for or not. It is part of my value system. If you do utilize this value statement as I have, you must accept the following explanation of the statement.

What is money? In business, money is the item we use to exchange for our goods or services. Money can be cash, receivables (billed, not paid), a credit line, an asset, a loan or an investment. The business invests all of the previous lists of money in people, facilities, equipment, raw materials, services to vendor and taxes, of course. These investments are planned, analyzed, considered, debated, refined, measured and tracked to grow a business. At times, the investments may be to forestall a competitive advance or meet a government or industry compliance requirement.

Even if the investment decision is to meet a compliance requirement, it is still made and the money spent to help the business grow, as begrudgingly as the money is spent on this compliance, it does so to allow it to continue to grow. The balance between the money spent and the growth achieved is the challenge every business struggles to be on the positive side. Tracking, measuring, forecasting, budgeting, banking, reporting and so on all about money. Upwards of 80% of a businesses reports are configured to report currency. How much money did we spend, get back in return (ROI) and/or what advantage did the money deliver.

Now what is time? Regardless of business or non-business, time is only the now or later. Today or tomorrow, this week or next, this year or 10 years from now are other ways to say it. But, they all mean now or later. We could get into Einstein’s theories on time, but for me there is right now or later. Time can be measured and tracked. The amount of time can be planned, analyzed, considered, debated, and refined. Some investment of time is always needed when there is an investment in money.

However, this where the large difference in money and time, time and money comes to light.

You have up to 80% of reporting in a business regarding money, that leaves only 20% for time, but in truth time reporting is 5% or less. The other 15% is made up of reports on material, people or facility quantities. So with all this attention, prioritization and focus on money, does business consider time as a major component of their decision making?

Most do not consider time as a major component, more as an afterthought. To use my value statement of ‘There is always more money, never more time’, a business must make time more than an afterthought.

More money can be made, found, borrowed, heck even stolen

Legal Disclaimer – I do not recommend, condone or suggest that stealing is acceptable, ethical or something you should do – so no blaming me for getting caught

, but time cannot be made, found, borrowed or stolen. The phase ‘make more time’ is false. An allocation or assignment of more future (later) time is possible. But, a there is no way to make or give more time. This is the important basis to use this statement as part of your value system in making decisions.

The final point here is that spending the correct amount of money, on the correct material or service at the correct point in time can reduce the amount of later time a business uses to attain some growth. A project the business decides to spend money on and to hire expert consultants to perform part of the project, reducing the ‘later’ time the project will take to deliver the return on the money investment or a business decides to spend more with a local supplier to ensure ‘later’ time deliveries have a higher likelihood of on time delivery. The important part here is to create metrics and reporting that validate that the ‘later’ time was saved based on what you value time as, thus back to money. Time is worth money and money is worth time – a business needs to consider both equally.

What do I want to say – that spending money is almost always worth it if you can reduce future ‘later’ time.

What do I want to people to do – start considering time more when they make decisions, especially on where to spend money. How much ‘later’ time will this money save if I spend it now versus spending it when ‘later’ comes.

Especially, when you consider a proposal and decide to cut a component of the proposal to make the proposal fit into a money constraint. Take the time to consider what that reduction means when the future comes around and you may need to spend that small amount of money you cut anyway. Yes, you may not have had to spend any more money, but I would put a dollar of my money over a minute of my time that decision cost you twice as much time.

Time is just as easy to track as money.

Ask yourself how much of your decision making data includes time oriented information.

Some other thoughts by others on time vs money –

thinksimplenow

Marketing Wharton School

Forbes

Rule #1 ask forgiveness instead of permission

Attributed to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, amongst other grand achievements is a pioneer in the programming world starting with COBOL creation.    

In short, the key to high performing teams is following this rule.

There are two sides of this rule. The employee side side should understand that when when you are asking management to grant permission you are asking them to accept partial responsibility for your specific actions the permission is granting. Now, you might say, that a manager is always responsible for an employee’s actions. Very true, yet by asking for permission your are forcing a manager to be comforted with that reality. Somewhat similar to a person realizing they are a Dad or Mom the first time they here a baby crying and realize they are in responsible for soothing their baby.

Up to that point the manager/Dad or Mom always knew they were responsible, but suddenly it is real.

Whereas, asking a manager for forgiveness actually caters to their ego. For asking for permission is requiring them to accept responsibility, asking for forgiveness allows them to be benevolent and merciful. You, in effect are bowing to their hierarchical power over you. Feeding the ego strongly this does.

This is all well and good, but a manager can use this rule to a more important end then stroking their ego. It can support a culture change from risk avoidance to smart risk taking.

The rule of ask forgiveness, instead of permission is an incentive for staff to overcome a fear of failure. Part of staff’s fear is having to ask permission and defend verbally to a superior why they want to do something. No matter how warm and fuzzy a boss you may be, having to defend course of action in a culture of risk avoidance is scary and along with risk, avoided.

So that is the first part of fear, is having to go ask the boss about it. The second part is the fear of taking action. Covering yourself by having your manager approve your actions slows down execution and can be a killer when you are dealing with customer problems, product/service launches or testing new ideas.

For a manager who wishes to have a high performing team, you need team members who you can delegate responsibility too and a key to developing that capability is that the team feels safe and free to take action. You need a culture of risk takers to have that high performing team.

Yes, you will have those staff who abuse the rule. You should be corrective actioning those members off your team as they are counter productive in other areas as well.

The one codicil    to this rule is the magnitude level. If a team member performs an action and said action has a large NEGATIVE dollar impact to the bottom line, say 6 figures or more, than realistically they are gone. Make the team aware of this codicil.

Rule #2 – There is always more money, there is never more time.

 

The phrase ‘time is money’ holds evermore true in the global economy where time zones have been removed as constraints to commerce. Even in our global depressed economy there is not fair balance between time and money.

Regardless, of your time management techniques, methodologies or process discipline you cannot –

  • Create

  • Save

  • Make

  • Manage

  • or Control

TIME.

Anyone who professes to, is comparable to someone saying they can change the past or make a pitcher throw a strike in the instead of walking that first batter in the bottom of the ninth. Sorry, a distraction there regarding the current playoffs. However, you can create, save, make, manage and control MONEY. You can use what money you have now to make more. You can use save the money you have now to use later. But, most importantly, you can use money to have an activity take less time by getting the right expertise, quantity of staff or tools. So, to restart – there is NEVER more time, but there is ALWAYS more money. Yes, even now.

This statement about money and time, I have used during my career to help guide me on decisions. Whether the decision regarded hiring, firing, budget allocations or what client to work for or not. It is part of my value system. If you do utilize this value statement as I have, you must accept the following explanation of the statement.

What is money? In business, money is the item we use to exchange for our goods or services. Money can be cash, receivables (billed, not paid), a credit line, an asset, a loan or an investment. The business invests all of the previous lists of money in people, facilities, equipment, raw materials, services to vendor and taxes, of course. These investments are planned, analyzed, considered, debated, refined, measured and tracked to grow a business. At times, the investments may be to forestall a competitive advance or meet a government or industry compliance requirement.

Even if the investment decision is to meet a compliance requirement, it is still made and the money spent to help the business grow, as begrudgingly as the money is spent on this compliance, it does so to allow it to continue to grow. The balance between the money spent and the growth achieved is the challenge every business struggles to be on the positive side. Tracking, measuring, forecasting, budgeting, banking, reporting and so on all about money. Upwards of 80% of a businesses reports are configured to report currency. How much money did we spend, get back in return (ROI) and/or what advantage did the money deliver.

Now what is time? Regardless of business or non-business, time is only the now or later. Today or tomorrow, this week or next, this year or 10 years from now are other ways to say it. But, they all mean now or later. We could get into Einstein’s theories on time, but for me there is right now or later. Time can be measured and tracked. The amount of time can be planned, analyzed, considered, debated, and refined. Some investment of time is always needed when there is an investment in money.

However, this where the large difference in money and time, time and money comes to light.

You have up to 80% of reporting in a business regarding money, that leaves only 20% for time, but in truth time reporting is 5% or less. The other 15% is made up of reports on material, people or facility quantities. So with all this attention, prioritization and focus on money, does business consider time as a major component of their decision making?

Most do not consider time as a major component, more as an afterthought. To use my value statement of ‘There is always more money, never more time’, a business must make time more than an afterthought.

More money can be made, found, borrowed, heck even stolen

Legal Disclaimer – I do not recommend, condone or suggest that stealing is acceptable, ethical or something you should do – so no blaming me for getting caught

, but time cannot be made, found, borrowed or stolen. The phase ‘make more time’ is false. An allocation or assignment of more future (later) time is possible. But, a there is no way to make or give more time. This is the important basis to use this statement as part of your value system in making decisions.

The final point here is that spending the correct amount of money, on the correct material or service at the correct point in time can reduce the amount of later time a business uses to attain some growth. A project the business decides to spend money on and to hire expert consultants to perform part of the project, reducing the ‘later’ time the project will take to deliver the return on the money investment or a business decides to spend more with a local supplier to ensure ‘later’ time deliveries have a higher likelihood of on time delivery. The important part here is to create metrics and reporting that validate that the ‘later’ time was saved based on what you value time as, thus back to money. Time is worth money and money is worth time – a business needs to consider both equally.

What do I want to say – that spending money is almost always worth it if you can reduce future ‘later’ time.

What do I want to people to do – start considering time more when they make decisions, especially on where to spend money. How much ‘later’ time will this money save if I spend it now versus spending it when ‘later’ comes.

Especially, when you consider a proposal and decide to cut a component of the proposal to make the proposal fit into a money constraint. Take the time to consider what that reduction means when the future comes around and you may need to spend that small amount of money you cut anyway. Yes, you may not have had to spend any more money, but I would put a dollar of my money over a minute of my time that decision cost you twice as much time.

Time is just as easy to track as money.

Ask yourself how much of your decision making data includes time oriented information.