please strip!

Have you ever been to an orthopedist, maybe because your knee hurt?

Then it might have occurred to you, as it did to me: you had the diagnosis on the symptom, which was unequivocally identified on the x-ray, but the cause of your problem still remained in the dark.
Once outside, after the clearance, it hurts like before and you still don’t know how to get rid of the pain (but now you might know it’s exact location).
But the orthopedist’s job was thorough: he quickly could find the spot causing the pain thanks to his experience and specialized equipment (in my case a dislocated knee-cap), and then he gives advice on the following step to be taken – we have to operate!

First, you decide to visit another specialist, because having an operation and letting them mess around with your ligaments and other vital parts is not what you want to have right now – you know that this mostly turns things for the worst!

A regular check-up visit to my family doctor, an internist actually, finally cast a new light on my pain-issue. How? He examined me from another perspective.
After asking me to undress (which he did in his usual rough manner, by asking me to ‘strip’!) and after critically inspecting my posture, he asked me if I had a knee problem. I was surprised since I didn’t tell him about that. “No wonder, he said, you are not straight, because your feet have lost strength – you are getting older… Most likely you have pain in your neck as well? (I again affirmed in amazement) Well, all you need is sole support and in one year the pain will be gone. Now, bend over…!”

Next to getting the insight that nothing is built to last forever, I also got a recipe for these soles and now, a year later, all pain is gone!
Which made clear again: often the real problem lies, in medical issues as well as in industry, in lack of focusing on what’s essential (and the ignorance that nothing lasts).
What is essential, mostly is not that what pops up first, but what lies deeper. Although this is common sense and everybody knows that cause and effect seldom have the same source, we continuously run into examples where people do forget. This makes you wonder why we want to have the immediate diagnosis so bad: is it because we are generally impatient, or maybe because we have forgotten how to mentally ‘strip’ and seek another view on the issue?

There are many examples to be found within companies – and a lot of these companies have ill postures!
As in my case, also the CEO’s of companies run to their ‘orthopaedics’ to have an examination because of pain. The X-rays made by the consultants quickly reveal where it hurts and the findings are mostly likewise to the one on my knee – we have to operate!
What follows is cutting away the fat, strengthen ligaments, correcting bones and lift faces: lean-management, six-sigma, a new CI-program, or any of the methods that can be applied, are all like the orthopaedic’s findings, they are all valid and relevant. Not that you get me wrong: without them, we cannot react efficiently to symptoms we occur. Sometimes it’s even better to just do away with the symptoms, especially then, when the cause is plain and obvious.

But it is increasingly more difficult in companies to have a holistic view of where the ‘pain’ comes from and to find somebody who can provide a remedy to eliminate the root cause. It’s way easier to start curing the symptoms than painstakingly search for the deeper source of the problem.
For instance: it does hurt when revenues are below expectations. As a cure, you can give a twist to the margin, to get rid of the pain, according to the motto: down with the price, even more down with the cost. If the pain remains, there is the tendency to remove it with the ‘organ’, mostly done through portfolio pruning, restructuring, joint-venture or the closure of parts of the company.
Like in medical care these measures bring relief and keep the organism going, for the time being…

It’s getting really difficult, if one looks for the cause holistically and discovers it there, where you cannot perform an amputation. When you have to operate there, where the root-cause lies, and not there where it hurts: it takes way longer for the effect to kick in and it needs trust and confidence if you want to cure in this way…
It also requires that the patient ‘strips’ from his fears and prejudices and allows for such an intervention to take place. And he has to actively support the process: with self-confidence and openness to also look for the cause within himself, and with the will, not to settle for quick curing of the symptom.

When companies have this confidence, are self-aware and are supported to find the essential, they can cure their problems effectively.

So, are you ready to strip?!

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