Whether it be medical science, veterinary science, business management or accounting, we regularly hear ‘fix the cause’. Yet an immediate intervention to treat the symptom is often helpful (perhaps even essential) before the cause can be effectively attended.
Consider the person, lying on the street, covered in blood, more blood pooling. Do we ignore the profuse bleeding and focus solely on whatever might be the cause? No, we don’t. We’re taught to apply pressure to the site as the first intervention.
Consider that time you travelled when you were struck down with diarrhoea. Did you rush to hospital and have invasive procedures administered to address the cause? Unlikely. Probably the first point of business was to ‘stop the business’ so to speak. Secondly to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes. Later, if no improvement, medical advice.
Consider the employee who starts to miss deadlines or produce work of diminishing quality resulting in client dissatisfaction. Do we simply sack the employee as ‘the cause’? Not under current IR laws, and not under morally responsible management. Most likely we address the symptoms to ensure we maintain our client relations thereby often revealing the underlying cause.
Consider the pressure of reducing revenues which makes supporting current expenditure untenable. Do we lay off personnel to reduce costs as our first defense? Mostly not. Usually we address the ‘internal’ symptoms first seeking ways to improve efficiencies and thereby costs. Sadly, however, we rarely address the ‘external’ symptoms, often writing them off as being beyond our control.
My point is this.
It takes time to identify the underlying and true cause of any problem. It then takes more time to identify and implement the most appropriate and effective corrective action.
If you’re not addressing the symptoms as you travel along this timeline, there may be no problem left to deal with. The person died of blood loss. Your diarrhoea caused massive dehydration and organ failure. The employee committed suicide. The business became insolvent.
Treat the symptom immediately. Then, monitoring the symptom ‘health’, walk the path of discovery using multi-faceted communication to uncover the cause and solutions to that cause, mindful still that modifications to the solution may well be needed in order to create enduring solutions.
This post is dedicated to my beautiful tawny Abyssinian cat, Holly, whose symptoms may not have been addressed quickly enough in pursuit of the cause. Much loved, deeply missed. 25 November 1993 – 30 October 2011. RIP.