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  • 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 verythey 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

  • canand 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 WhyBecause the server is overloaded 2nd WhyBecause we had a sudden peak in

  • traffic 3rd WhyBecause 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.