Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Your future is nothing but the outcome of the decisions you make today. You make better decisions today, your future will be more prosperous, you make the wrong ones, then your future will be full of struggles. So, today we are going to talk about critical thinking and how it applies to problem solving. I'll give you a weird analogy here. Critical thinking ability is like having infrared goggles and looking at the sky at night. Without it, You look at the space, you see only three things, you see stars, sometimes you see planets and you see darkness. But the moment you put on your infrared goggles then you get to see all these beautiful gas cloud, giant gas cloud and dust It so colorful, right? So you get to see the things we previously impossible to see. That's what critical thinking is. It lets you identify the actual problems, the root causes, but it also helps you see the opportunities. Now, critical thinking isn't only applicable to your work. It's applicable to every single area of your life. But my channel is all about your career. So, that's what we'll cover in this video. Now, we need a framework. And the framework starts with Problem Statement. Problem statement is very similar to a project charter. It includes Goals, as in what are you trying to achieve, your success criteria, as in how will I know I succeeded or failed, your assumptions, timelines, and stakeholders involved. It's very similar to a project charter. I am actually going to call this Problem Charter. This document is very helpful for two reasons. The second reason being a lot more important than the first. The first reason why it's very helpful is because when you get engaged in that problem solving mode, you start uncovering a lot of other symptoms, that may be caused by completely other root causes. We are not interested in that at that moment. You will document those, but you are not going to develop solution alternatives, and develop action plans for those. Unless there are dependencies. So, it helps you understand your scope, who to deal with, the timelines, it basically keeps everything under control. But to be honest, in my decade long consulting career, I noticed that the biggest help of having such a charter is all about moving through bureaucracy. Let me explain. When you are going through problem solving stages, you actually do a lot of work, you summon meetings, you request data from various departments, you request for expertise from consultants, so you are shaking things, you are moving things around. Now, what gives you the power to do it? What gives you the power to call all these people to a meeting room, what gives you the power to ask for certain analytics data from a completely different department? Why should they attend that meeting or give you the data you want? Because they like you and they want to help you? What if they don't like you. Now if you are a senior employee, you are a manager, director, VP, then fine, of course everyone will come in to the meeting or give you the data you want. But if you are not that senior. Where does your power come from? It comes from that document. The problem charter. Corporate companies aren't usually very agile. They move slowly and the employees are usually very – they are not lazy but they push back –They don't want to stop what they are doing and join your little problem solving brainstorm session and go through your little PowerPoint of fishbone analysis. They got their own thing to worry about. So, if you have your problem charter, only a few pages, signed off by a sponsor, someone senior, then you have the power to get the data you want and bring in experts, and call for meetings. That's what your power comes from. Ok, now let's continue; now you developed the problem statement, you got your buy-in from someone senior, now, you are off to solving the problem. The 2nd step in your critical thinking towards a problem is identifying the root causes, right? We want to look at the symptoms, or the consequences, and walk backwards and until we reach the root causes. There are various ways you can use. Like Fishbone analysis for relatively more complex ones, or for simple problems you can have 5 WHYs. 5 Whys is made famous by Toyota Production System. As the name suggests, you ask WHY WHY WHY until you get to a root cause. Very simple stuff. But what is not so simple is knowing when to stop. It's not necessarily at the 5th question. Because you actually can ask infinite amount of WHYs. There is always a layer down. It never actually ends. I mean, If you have children, then you probably know what I am talking about. So 5 is just an arbitrary number. Don't take it literally. Let's run an example. An actual one. This is actually a problem that got me into a lot of trouble. So, the situation is that when I was at PwC Consulting, every time we have a down time, meaning when we are not doing client work, we would engage in other work, like research, writing thought leadership articles, delivering pro bono speeches, or write proposals for new projects. Now there was this one time, when I couldn't finish the proposal on time. As a result, we couldn't submit the document to client and client excluded us from the bids. Now, that's a potentially a million dollar loss for the firm. Because if we could just submit, we would most probably win the project. This whole thing entirely was my mistake. I was leading the proposal development, I was the manager, and I had 2 senior associates working for me. So, it was a big failure. I mean I messed up real good. It's really rare that anyone can say they cost their employer a million dollars – I can… and it is even more rare that they don't get fired… I didn't… A definitely career milestone for me there. Not something you can see on my CV… But anyway, let's ask some WHYs… Let's analyze why I messed up. let's apply the 5 WHYs. So, Deniz says, we couldn't deliver the proposal on time. Ok. Deniz, why? It took us more time than I expected Why – I estimated the time requirements, like how long it would take based on the previous similar projects. So, I looked at the previous RFPs Request for Proposals, and our proposal development time for those projects, and that's how I estimated. Now, stop. Because it's a dead end. Don't ask more Whys. Because it is the best practice to estimating the time requirements of a proposal based on the previously similar ones. So, Deniz did the right thing here. So, if you ask one more WHY. It will be detrimental. Why did you look at the past RFPs? Because it's the best practice…. Oh… See, my point. So, it was the right action to take. But it was implemented poorly. So, I did the right thing by looking at the previous RFPs but I did a poor job in terms of analyzing the scope of work. I didn't realize a small part of the scope involved expertise in social security systems – which I didn't know much about. So, I had to work with a subject matter expert from our London office and I wasted a lot of time there with back and forth communication. Let's run one more example. I am not an IT. But let's give one example from IT. Our software is slow in responding to inputs. 1st Why – Because the server is overloaded 2nd Why – Because we had a sudden peak in traffic 3rd Why – Because we got featured in a Tech Magazine which resulted in massive traffic boost. Good. Now you know the reasons. It would be idiotic to continue asking why. It's common sense. Why did we get featured in Tech Magazine? It's a great thing for the business. See, it makes no sense. Instead, at that stage, a better question to ask, is why didn't we anticipate this and put in place the contingency capacity in our server? If ask that question. Then the answer to that would be negligence, a human error, or lack of standard operating procedures, like whatever works. So, I want to go back to the proposal example. I want to talk more about finding root causes.. If you noticed, the problems I shared with you were fairly simple ones, right? And the reason they were simple was because there is a direct chain, direct connection between the consequence and the root cause. Why? Because Of X, Why X? because of Z? Why Z… Well, that's the root cause. So it was fairly simple. But in real life it so happens that sometimes problems can't be found by looking at the consequences or the symptoms. The root cause lies completely elsewhere. There is no direct link between the root cause and symptom So you know situations, where do you even start? Now, let me give you an example of a problem that we faced very recently. That problem was actually the reason of my absence from YouTube for a while. Let me share with you what happened and how we eventually identified the root cause. You probably already know about my LIG program, right? It's Landing Interviews Guaranteed. Horrible name. I know. I Don't know what I was thinking. So, I left PwC Consulting around 4 months ago to fully focus on my LIG program, and I usually spent most of my day helping LIG members get better jobs or pass their interviews. It's an awesome program and I get about 10 to 15 new registrations every day. And LIG is the reason why I have this YouTube channel so I can have opportunity to talk about. Which I should do it more often. Anyways, Now, about 3 weeks ago, something really bad happened. So, from having about 10 to 15 registrations every day, all of a sudden we got nothing. No registration. No one enrolled. Then comes the next day, again nothing. Then 3rd day again nothing, 4th day again nothing. I mean you can imagine how I felt in that situation, right? It's my livelihood. I mean I left a pretty amazing career with PwC and took a big risk with LIG and The Career Mastery. And it's all crashing down. Think about how it is, the moment for me. It's like war mode. So, for about 4 days I got nothing more than 5 hours of sleep combined. I was a walking zombie constantly asking WHY, WHY, WHY, WHY? You know the 5 Whys we covered, they became 500 Whys. So, the first obvious questions; Is it the payment processor? Nope, we tested it. It worked fine. Is the traffic to site down? Are people not coming ? Nope We checked Google Analytics. It's all fine. We still get a lot of referral traffic. Is the server down? We checked the server logs, it was all fine. There was no downtime, even in peak times. I mean me and Jeanette, we literally came up with more than 100 potential causes and we ran tests for every single one of them. No sleep for 4 days. Nothing. It's crazy. Now after 4 days of constant struggle. Like constant effort, right ? I got really depressed. No sleep, nothing, I didn't even know who to go to solve this problem. Like who is the person that can help us understand. So, in my misery, I went home to my sweet couch, opened up a bottle of Vodka, I grabbed the whole bottle, sat down, turned on my TV, and literally I picked the most depressing movie of all time: Hachiko. If you are dog owner, I don't care if you are the toughest person alive, that movie will make you cry your eyes out. It's that depressed. So I started watching it. After watching for an hour, all of a sudden, a very interesting idea came to my mind… Was I somehow hacked? Was like the whole thing some sort of sophisticated hacking? It was. The hackers somehow made everything look normal to us, and all the visitors from 2 cities I live in. Dubai, and Vancouver. Everything looks fine if you enter from those cities. But anyone else who come to the site, they would see a maintenance note. The site is under construction. They even put a weird video to make the visitors stay in the site a bit longer so I wouldn't understand by looking at the Google Analytics user behavior data. We got hacked! It took us 4 days to realize that and a bottle of Vodka. Anyway, I understood the root cause, not because I followed a Fishbone diagram or 5 WHYS. I asked 500 Whys, 5000 Whys Do you know why I was able to solve the problem? Can you guess why the potential root cause popped up in my mind? Let's get nerdy a bit. I was able to solve the problem because my brainwaves changed. I didn't do it purposely but I am glad it did. When I relaxed after 4 days and stopped focusing on the problem.