Neil Tambe

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I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Asking “why” - an antidote for short sightedness

Asking “why” or “why are we doing this” seems to be a pretty good antidote to short sightedness. Why? 

Because asking why leads to a conversation that clarifies priorities, rationale, and motivation. I’ve found, at least, that if you ask someone “why?”, it’s easy to determine whether their idea is thought through, selfish, sincere, or clever. I don’t think most people actually like being short sighted, so once that’s revealed it’s easier to change course. Asking why pulls back the curtain.

As a Manager, I’m often guilty of not making “why” very clear. On the one hand, maybe it’s because I’m rushing and feel the pressure of deadlines and performance metrics. On the other hand, maybe I think why is obvious (even though it isn’t). Maybe I don’t even know “why” myself, and I’m just going through the motions. 

I don’t know how to get enterprises as a whole to ask why, yet, other than just doing it. But I’d hypothesize this: enterprises where most employees feel comfortable and actually do ask “why” are probably well run, profitable, happy places to work.  

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com