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5 Whys and the Unlocking of Existential Answers


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Business advisors often accept the first answer an owner gives them. As a result they are often surprised when the owner doesn't meet expectations. Use the 5 Whys technique to get below the surface.

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5 Whys and the Unlocking of Existential Answers

  1. 1. What Lies Beneath Exploration involves unlocking existential answers to essential questions
  2. 2. Despite the best laid plans, organizations, projects, and people can get stuck in psychological systems and patterns. At best, getting stuck is just a delay, but even delays can cost hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars each year. At worst, getting stuck can result in complete and utter destruction of wealth and legacy… particularly when the issue is business transition, succession, and/or exit.
  3. 3. The identified reason for delay or failure is often not the real issue - it is only a symptom. Not all is as it seems
  4. 4. Start by asking How do you get to the real reason?
  5. 5. …and ask it at least 5 times.
  6. 6. Why? Because the root cause is much harder to identify than the symptoms... # 1
  7. 7. Why? Because the first response to “why” is usually a symptom… # 2
  8. 8. Why? Because our limited perceptions lead to assumptions and judgments that are often based on personal bias, experience, incomplete, and/or inaccurate information… # 3
  9. 9. Why? Because symptoms are how people in a system experience the problems and make meaning of their situation... # 4
  10. 10. Why? Because systems are complex, people have diverse experiences, and problems are often hidden deep below the surface. # 5
  11. 11. Therefore: Personal bias, experience, judgments and assumptions need to be challenged and tested.
  12. 12. Real Life Case Study: “Robert”, a 73-year old business owner says he wants to sell his business, but consistently fails to execute and has left a string of advisors stymied. He says all the right words and takes all the right steps toward execution of the deal, but walks away just before the closing.
  13. 13. Start with 5 Whys… 1. Why did you walk away from the deal? The terms weren’t right. 2. Why weren’t the terms right, they were exactly what you asked for? Because I think I can get more money. 3. Why is getting more money the most important aspect of the deal for you? It’s not, I also want my employees to be well cared for after I exit. 4. Why is it important that your employees are well cared for? Because they helped me build this place and many of them are like family. 5. Why do you still want to sell if your employees are so important to you?
  14. 14. The root cause tells us that the deal terms are not the problem. “Robert’s” business is meeting deep psychological needs for autonomy, relatedness, and competency. He will need to develop other means of satiating these needs if he is going to exit successfully.
  15. 15. Now that we know the real “why” we can apply a fundamental solution for the root cause and unstick the situation.
  16. 16. The Psychology of Exits Assessment | Training | Consulting @planfortransition 714 389 9318