Why or Who?


[Originally written for and published on N-Zine]

“Hey, do you know what is a ‘Why-Why’ analysis?” Lulu, my parrot asked.

“Nope! Why are you asking me that question?” I replied.

“Good that you don’t know. Now I can talk confidently about it. It is a simple technique to discover the root cause of a problem. You just ask ‘Why’ five times to discover the root cause!”

“Ok, tell me,” I said, “why does the sun shine?”

“Oh shut up. It has no answer. Science can only explain ‘How does the sun shine’ but not why! You know that very well. You are distracting me, I don’t like it.” Lulu said lightly tapping my shoulder with his beak.

“It hurts, Lulu. Ok what were you saying? I will listen carefully now.” I said.

“I was saying that people invent such simple methods, and inventors do crazy things!”

“Looks like you have read something recently about it.”

“Oh yes. I will read out this from one of The Economist articles, “In the early 1900s Frank Gilbreth, one of the pioneers of industrial psychology, tried to raise his 12 children according to Frederick Taylor’s principles of scientific management. He discovered that you could cut the time it took to shave if you used two razors at once—but then abandoned the idea when he found that it took an additional two minutes to bandage the resulting wounds.” Lulu read out.
“Interesting, very interesting! Frank Gilbreth was no ordinary person; his contribution to the subject is extra-ordinary. Why do they do such funny things?” I asked.

“Nobody would have reported it if you were to use two razors to shave. But with Gilbreth it makes a noteworthy effort. When Sachin broke window panes of neighbours, it made news. There is a lesson for us isn’t it?”  

“Now, why are you saying that?” I asked, sensing an ‘approach shot.’ I said.

“‘Why’ is not the most important question in this world; ‘Who’ is more important than ‘Why’!” Would you like to know why people amass wealth or who has got money stashed up in his bank?” Lulu asked

“The latter, obviously!”

“Would you, for instance, like to know why a dumb man invariably gets the most beautiful girl or who has taken her away?” Lulu asked.

“The latter, obviously!”

“Point proved. I liked what Groucho Marx said, “A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.” Lulu said laughing!

Vivek

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