Follow The Leader

November 06, 2016

Think for Yourself!


I worked with another consultant a few years back who used to jokingly give me a hard time because I was always asking why.  "Why, why, why?  Why do you always ask why?"  In that line of work, when you are helping clients configure their software, it's critical to know why they do something.  Often there are valid reasons for a particular process.  But, there may be times that a process exists because that is how it's always been done.  Legacy practice, with the reason and the logic long forgotten, and maybe no longer even required.  Maybe it never was needed.

So yes, in that role I was always about the why.  How else can you help a client set up their software in the best way possible for running their processes and then reporting the results? 

Actually, I like to question everything.  I always have.  I recall a few years back when my kids were still in school.  They would come home and ask me questions about things they had learned in school that day.  So my response was always, "did you ask the teacher?" The teacher doesn't like to be questioned, was often their response.  


That kind of response makes no sense to me.  Why would we not want questions to be part of the discussion?  Asking questions is an excellent way of finding answers.  I have found myself in numerous situations where, individually, no one knows.  But bring together a group for a discussion and answers magically appear.  That is the power of groups, and asking questions within those groups.


On another front, there is the idea of questioning the status quo.  I participated in a relay race a couple of years back.  There are facilities along the way, and I join the lineup because we runners always have to use the facilities before we run.  Even if we don’t really need to go, nerves make us think we do.  There are two washrooms.  Buddy comes out of the first bathroom and next buddy goes in.  No action from the second door.  Another buddy comes out of first bathroom and again someone takes his/her place.  Door #2 – nada.  And the lineup of nervous runners continues to grow given that we are all using just the one bathroom.   

Door #2

I watch this scene repeat a couple of more times, and finally I ask the obvious question.  Is there anyone behind door #2?  Shrugs all around.  One of the girls bends down to see if she can see legs in that second facility.  She decides she can’t determine anything from that view.  Again, shrugs all around. And the next buddy exchange occurs at the first bathroom.


Right then I decide that I no longer want to be part of this science experiment.  So I go knock on door #2.  No answer.  I try the door.  It is open – and the facility is empty.  I turn and look at the runners in the lineup.  Shrugging is the reaction yet again.  The picture of the sheep filing through the gate behind a non-existent fence comes to mind.

The line moves faster after that.  Shocker.  Funny to see how people behave when they are afraid to question the status quo.  Or perhaps they assume that everyone else knows better than they do.  Sometimes it just feels easier to go along and wait for someone else to take action.  But the silliness of that situation just would not let me ignore it.  Why on earth would we all just assume that both facilities were being used, even though there was no action whatsoever from door #2? 

No Such Thing

I once worked with a gentleman who said I asked too many questions.  Nope, I don’t think that’s possible.  Always good to ask questions.  And in my world, I will always question something if it doesn’t make sense to me.  I may not like the answer that I get. Or maybe there is no answer yet.  But that doesn't stop me from asking the question.  That’s just my nature. 

B - The Healthy Guerrilla


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