Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Asking why x number of times

A fellow toastmaster presented a thought provoking presentation about asking why five times which I found interesting.

When you confront a problem, you stop and ask why to understand why something has occured. Then you ask why again to find out why that has occurred. You continue this a number of times and as you do so you find yourself closer to the root cause of the problem.

For example, consider finding a spill in a store.
[1] You ask why is that there?
It may be there because someone spilt some soft drink on the floor.
[2] You then ask, why did someone spill soft drink on the floor?
It may be because a customer bumped into the customer than was holding the soft drink.
[3] You then ask, why did these customers bump into each other?
It may be because one of the customers was walking fast past some shelvings and didn't see the other customer going past.
[4] You then ask, why are the shelvings there?
The shelvings may be there as per request by head office.
[5] You then ask, why did head office request the shelvings be there?
It may be that head office is trying to sell more products.

You can go further and keep asking why, for example as to why they're trying to sell more products (perhaps to increase sales on particular products or on marketing's advice). You can actually do this at any of the points (1 to 5 in this example) of asking why and in doing so you can indirectly and directly change the chain of outcomes.

This questioning why technique can be applied anywhere in life, whether in business, or in your own life. It reminds me the sort of questioning we have as kids, why? 'Why is it like that?' I hope you find the technique useful. You may even consider as I have, the potential to expand this to other forms of the Ws (i.e. Who, when, what, where, why and how), but for now, I'll start with 'why'...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Raising kids to be entrepreneurs

Just came across a great video that talks about raising kids in a way that allows them to find and develop skills that they can use in life, particularly for those who often find themselves lost in the education system and drop out. Instead, Cameron Herold discusses how these kids can be raised to become entrepreneurs.

He mentions how society often teaches kids to depend on allowances which makes them expect a pay check and as a result need to work for someone rather than starting their own business. So he suggests asking kids to find chores/ tasks that they could do for pocket money and then ask their parents. In that way they learn negotiation, researching skills and improve their communication skills - essential skills for an entrepreneur.

He also explains that rather than simply reading a story to your child, you should pick a few items and then ask children to invent a story for you. That way they learn creativity and expressive skills. He suggests maybe 4 nights of you reading the story, the other nights picking a few items to talk about.

This whole video reminds me of this book I'm reading called, "How Children Learn". Basically that is talking about how children are curious, playful and inventive when they are young, and then as they grow older and learn how society works, they learn to be fearful, weary and reluctant to explore, play and invent games. They  learn to try work their actions and thoughts to how society works rather than simply being kids. It's great in terms of their understanding of the 'social contract' concept but the balance between that and personal development and growth and the effect it can have is something to consider, and the latter is explained in the book. Since it can make for slower, average or faster learners.

An example in the book was learning how to talk or to walk. As a child with no fears or worries (about what people thought of their pronounication of words or as they tried to walk), they would keep on trying and giving it a go. This practice is important and when a child is more conscious of these they can be less eager to try, and so, we may find that it takes them longer for them to get there...if at all...

He also sums up the traits needed by an entrepreneurial to nurtune in kids, and these are:

attainmenttenacityleadershipsalesintrospectionnetworkinghandling failureboot strappingcustomer service

As well as the need to teach kids these life skills:

problem solvingto lead othersto want to make moneypublic speakingto ask questionsto learn from mistakeshow to sellto never give upto be creativehow to save moneyto ask for helpto see solutionsHe also reminds us to remember that you too was once 'a kid' and that we too can 'make a difference'.

Here's the video embedded or you can view it directly at: http://on.ted.com/8VoK