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Start with Why

Last updated Jul 24, 2023 Edit Source

As @Simon Sinek says, “Start with Why”. This simple yet powerful statement gets to the root of our motivations and readily encompasses values, mission, and impact goals with clarity and simplicity. It reminds me of the book The Toyota Way in which a key technique to help root cause analysis is to ask Why 5 times, recognizing that our first response is often not the root cause but rather a habituated response from our default mode, whether that be one of defensiveness or over-assuredness in the context of the question. This technique is also known as the 5 Whys in Lean Manufacturing.

For example if I want to do a root cause analysis on

  1. why I am writing and publishing my second brain my first instinct is to say
    1. Because I am passionate about open innovation and collaborative problem solving, especially when it comes to making a collective impact by changing the status quo.
  2. Why am I passionate about open innovation and collaborative problem solving for impact and change?
    1. Because I’ve realized the traditional development model is inherently inefficient and flawed. It engenders a lot of duplicate work and wasted economic cycles. This is especially true in physical products.
  3. Why are traditional development models inherently inefficient and flawed?
    1. Because people, institutions, and companies invest a great deal of time and money into bringing innovative products and solutions to market and if they remain silo’d and buried after the company or institution fails to deliver for reasons other than product/market fit (i.e. market timing issue, unforeseen obstacle, personnel issues, etc.) then all that time, skilled labor, and capital in developing what very well may be a life changing product have essentially been artificially buried for the sake of greed, “if I can’t make money of it, then no one can.”
  4. Why do people, institution, and companies continue to develop products this way despite the clear inefficiency in moving the human race and society forward?
    1. Risk aversion, it’s less risky to just do what has always been done. Iterative innovation is the least risky and is fine if you aren’t up against a deadline such as the total destruction of natural ecosystems that sustain humanity and life on this planet.
  5. Why are people averse to risk?
    1. They are fearful of loss and uncertainty, to mitigate this they focus on what’s worked in the past (while often overlooking the context of the past). We can also look to human physiology as to why we do what’s comfortable, rather than what’s needed
  6. What are they fearful of loss and uncertainty
    1. Ultimately they have adopted the misguided cultural belief that they are going to die at any moment and so need to aggregate as much resources and wealth for themselves, their family, and their tribe or community.
  7. Why have they adopted this misguided cultural belief?
    1. Propaganda
  8. Why is this propaganda being perpetuated?
    1. To create economic units of work and consumers that continue to purchase things they don’t need.
  9. Why does propaganda strive to turn people into economic units of work (dehumanize them) and manipulate them to buy things they don’t need.
    1. We don’t know anything better, it’s the best we’ve got. Communism was the leading contender but has been the cause of more death than any other political movement and so is clearly flawed.

This line of question leads me strive to uncover new models of economic development unimpaired by these outdated and artificial limitations. Alternative models of innovation, development, and revenue have been rapidly pioneered since the advent of computers enabled software to be duplicated with almost no additonal resources required. This enabled the Open Source Software movement, and innovative open source business models to become a viable alternative. Once we’re able to envision open source and collaborative innovation along with profitable business models we all of a sudden see companies proving these out.