by dr. NIMROD
Ask yourself, what do smart leaders do more; TALK or LISTEN?
You see, realistic, smart leaders know that they don’t have all the answers for all problems. At the same time, they know that the answer, even for the most complex problems, is out there for them to find by asking the right people the right questions.
Hence, this article is about problem-solving of any challenge, including those that cause consistent failure for industries and countries, and we will see how we do it by better listening.
Before I continue, allow me to wish you Happy Passover, Happy Easter, and Happy Ramadan (in 10 days).
Mental and Economic Freedom Are Interconnected.
Spring is a time of freedom, renewal, fresh thinking, and hopes for a better future.
In the spirit of liberty and freedom, I focus this time on the way we can create a better future for ourselves and our children.
No need to use force or aggression; it turns out that the best and fastest way to improve our situation, and build a better future, is through proper use of the art of listening and questioning. Let’s try this year to listen more than we talk.
WE ARE NATURAL PROBLEM-SOLVER
From my experience, when using the right tools and attitude, we can solve the most significant problems we face.
It is a fact that at Biofeed, we do not employ geniuses as of this moment. But, we employ people with the “right attitude,” and on the job, they get the “tools” to solve problems, the most challenging problems!
This is how the Green Valley program addresses global problems, the UN SDGs [>><<].
Furthermore, please take a look below at Biofeed’s Vision and Goals declaration; it is packed with impossible challenges.
And still, armed with “the right attitude and tools,” we consistently and continuously turn the “possible” Vision and Goals into an everyday reality, which some of you already experienced first-hand.
“To improve farmers’ livelihood by increasing quality production, free of bio and chemical hazards, grown in a safe, eco-friendly environment, to enable the consumers to enjoy better and healthier food and life.”
To turn “impossible” into “possible” and then into daily “reality,” we need first to detect the most critical problems. We want to shed light on few issues responsible for creating the most significant collateral, disproportionately, economic damage.
To be more precise, we are not looking to solve “ordinary” problems but rather the “Root Problems.”
While solving “ordinary problems” treats the symptom and brings temporary relief, solving “Root Problems” brings a continuous long-lasting change.
Once detecting the root problem, we can develop a direct, precise, and immediate solution to encounter it.
In my opinion, 90% of the project’s success is the ability to identify the Root Problem ahead of time.
Here are three factual statements related to me and problem-solving –
1. Until the age of 35, I was a farmer trying to solve his own problems to improve his own agro-business.
2. The method and system I used to solve my agro-business problems’, I later adjusted to other fields. It seems to be working just as well in any area for solving any problem.
3. The problem-solving system I relate to is simple and easy to use; no need to be a genius. All you need is having curiosity, your heart in the right place, and an open mind to change.
Life is change. the world continuously changes, and change creates problems.
Therefore, we can assume that every person, company, and organization have problems; some are big, and some are small. We can further assume that problem solving is a critical requirement and ability to succeed in all life fields, including business, economy, science, environment, and social.
Accordingly, the ability to solve root problems is a strategic advantage for those who possess it.
Hence, if you finish reading this article, I will succeed if you will possess the “tool” and improved abilities to detect Root -Problems.
Therefore, I dedicate this article to those who wish to change, make a difference, leave their mark, and lead by example.
ONE QUESTION MANY ANSWERS
As explained above, on the way to solving problems so that they will not reoccur, our first task is to make sure we correctly identify and deal with solving the Root Problem.
It may sound trivial, but we achieve 90% of a sustainable solution when we identify and focus on solving the Root Problem instead of taking care of the symptoms.
For example, when you change your lifestyle or life attitude, you change every day for the rest of your life. In contrast, when taking an aspirin pill to deal with a fever, you solve a symptom to bring a momentary relief, which will not affect the rest of your life.
Dealing with the symptoms is often a waste of resources, making it so important to focus on fixing root problems.
To discover root problems related to agro-industry in the emerging economies, I addressed the “crowd” on LinkedIn and asked; Why Africa and Asia are so way behind The West?
The response was overwhelming, and I received endless answers.
So many answers demonstrate that either everybody is wrong, or there is more than a single root problem, or that you asked the wrong question.
We can take crucial lessons from this; to provide the desired and accurate answer, we must ask a focused question.
THE METHOD AND SYSTEM
When did you last asked WHY?
Did you ever ask “WHY?” and after receiving an answer, you asked “WHY?” again?
Most people rarely ask WHY not to mention asking WHY twice in a single conversation. For some reason, it is considered rude behavior.
From now on, you have my formal “permission” and recommendation to ask as many Whys as you need. Tag yourself as being a curious and problem-solving-oriented person.
I use the question “WHY” to dig deep inside a problem before developing or suggesting a sustainable solution.
It sounds easy and straightforward, but the answers must be thoughtful, grounded, and based on facts, or else you will end up with a long list of guesses and hypothetical reasons that only adds up to your confusion.
In the 1930s, the Japanese industrialist and the founder of Toyota Industries, Sakichi Toyoda, developed the “5 Whys technique”. In the 1970s, it regained popularity, and Toyota uses this method to this day.
Think about the challenge; asking Why once is a struggle for most people, asking 2, 3, or 5 consecutive Whys, and expecting thoughtful, grounded, fact-based answers for each Why is an immense challenge.
As you will see in the example below, sometimes 5 Whys are insufficient, and we should ask more, while sometimes less will be fine.
How do you know when to stop?
When the answers you get don’t produce additional helpful responses, or a required “counter-measure” becomes evident.
EXAMPLE – SSA MANGO INDUSTRY
Background: Coming from Israel, where mango growers’ income is in the range of 40,000 to 60,000 € per hectare, and seeing the Sub-Sahara Africa (SSA) farmers who hardly earn 5,000 € per hectare, I wonder why that is the case? What could be the root problem that causes it?
Object characterization: To demonstrate the Whys system, we will focus on a typical SSA Mango grower, growing 5 hectares of mango, yielding 5 to 10 tons per hectare.
Perspective: Questions and answers are presented as a discussion with the relevant stakeholder, be it the grower, the crop protection officer, the exporter/importer, regulator, etc.
Caution: the answers and WHYs I use for this exercise are grounded by facts, and based on many face-to-face discussions and actual field experience, meaning self-witness.
Yet, the answers are general and may not be adequate to all SSA countries from its nature. Hence, your remarks and corrections are welcome.
Remarks and notes to the process –
For most cases, Toyota Industries settles for 5 Whys, while here we used 18 Whys, which reflects the depth and complexity of the problem.
There are clues for several additional fundamental problems along the root-problem discovery process, i.e., quality, quantity, financing, value chain, etc. We need to address these problems, but only AFTER the fruit fly, the root-problem is resolved adequately.
While looking to find the root problem and coming up with a sustainable, long-lasting solution, it is not uncommon to “discover” peripheral problems. However, treating those problems should be postponed until after resolving the root problem. Acting the other way is a waste of limited resources.
|FROM PROBLEM-SOLVING TO PRACTICEKeeping in mind that our ultimate goal is to make people’s lives better, the Whys problem-solving system is an initial stage.This is to follow with developing or bringing a proper solution and finally implementing the solution and making sure it works properly and fulfills our expectations.It is always advised to add a feedback mechanism that would allow us to keep track of performance and improve the solution.Let us summarize the WHY concept and process and see the stages required in building a comprehensive package;(a) Detect root problems by running the Whys series many times, under various scenarios.(b) Accordingly, develop proper counter-measure solutions.(c) Combine all solutions under a single roof that makes them available, accessible, and user-friendly.(d) Incorporate a feedback mechanism to improve each stage and the entire model continuously.(e) Repeat the process. THE MANGO INDUSTRY REALITYThe Whys research to discover the root problem of the mango industry in SSA leaves no room for doubt; this industry’s root problem is the lack of an appropriate world-class solution to the problem of quarantine fruit flies.Let’s make it clear; fruit flies are the Root-Problem of the entire SSA mango industry. This is a fact; what you do with this fact is up to you. ACTION PLANBy now, you should know me and my ambition to see real-life improvements for farmers wherever they are. Sometimes, however, you must engage in research and theoretical work before you can reach out for help.To this end, I use Biofeed and Green Valley.Green Valley is like a great machine that brings and produces solutions to its farmers. Farmers in emerging economies face many challenges, and too often, there are no available solutions; it is Green Valley’s task to develop the necessary solutions, which are later made available as part of the Green Valley Package.The Green Valley Package is the result of 30 years of work in the agro-industry. Scientists and farmers developed the Green Valley Package to facilitate the shift of farmers in the emerging economies, from the position of survival ship mode to global food production leaders. As leaders, they wouldn’t need economic support, and instead, they would energize the country and the global economy.From that perspective, Green Valley is a tailor-made package for emerging economies agro-industry, made to deliver and apply the Vision and Goals as defined and presented above.Green Valley program wishes to support mango growers in emerging economies in improving their livelihood.Green Valley also understands that no substantial realization of a business opportunity or economic improvement is possible before “clearing” the fruit fly obstacle off the way.Hence, Green Valley‘s first and most critical activity is applying the system approach protocol; Fruit Fly Certified Trade Zone 365 (FFCTZ 365).Once we “clear the road” from unexpected (or should I say expected) fruit fly related-problems, the prospect is bright, and the skies are clear to soar high and reach achievements exceeding our wildest dreams.The Whys simulation presented here helped us detect numerous ADDITIONAL critical problems, which are common to SSA countries.Using a series of simulations of Whys problem-solving approach, we studied carefully each bifurcation (split from the main branch from the root problem) and prepared counter-measure solutions.Thanks to this, Green Valley is pre-designed to support the entire value chain, from the farmers to the consumers.Farmers, traders, packinghouses, exporters, importers, supermarkets, and consumers who will work and buy Green Valley mangoes in 2021 will already feel and enjoy it.I will share part of our business secret with you; this year, ALL mango growers working under the Green Valley initiative will receive 50% to 100% financing of the FFCTZ 365 operation in their farms.This is one of many outcomes of the in-depth study we have performed and made available to Green Valley partners.|
» Start by focusing on finding and then solving the root problem.
» The SSA mango industry’s root problem is fruit flies. So it is with many other mango growing regions.
» The fruit flies’ solution is a System Approach control protocol, which enables zero chemical residues and zero infestation, year around.
» Green Valley‘s activity starts with protecting its growers from fruit flies.
»FFCTZ 365 protocol enables a long-lasting, effective solution to fruit flies’ problems. It cost about the same as alternative measures and is up to 100% financed.
» Green Valley Package provides a complete Farm2Shelf solution to the mango industry.
» With fruit flies no longer being a problem, growers can safely invest, increase quality, yield (quantities), reach premium markets, and ultimately increase their profit per hectare. That will be a dawn of a new era.