User experience, web, technology

Frequency of Error is Important in User Interface

(I published this in 2020, but it had been sitting as a draft since 2015. I presume this error set from Microsoft may not be relevant, although the idea could be.)

Late last week, right after I stopped running with scissors, I picked up a Microsoft Surface 3 tablet running Windows 10.

Over the weekend I’ve endured many problems and many cutesy error messages that stopped being cute after the first time. Here is one message I’ve seen too many times now:

The server stumbled. We all have bad days.

That is only a neat error message if I saw it once in, say, 6 months. Since I saw that message many times over the course of 3 days, it backfired. I no longer buy the “We all have bad days,” business. I think that the Surface has a bad day, every day. As for the stumble, sure, the Surface stumbled like a drunk falling face-first into bed.

The Surface never regained its footing after a stumble, and the error messages never helped me figure out how to diagnose and recover from the error.

I’ve lost trust in the system because of an accumulation of the errors and the inappropriate error messaging.

It didn’t have to be that way.

Imagine if instead the application counted its errors, perhaps of each type, and adapted the tone and directness of the error message based on how often the error message appears. Instead of “The server stumbled. We all have bad days,” what if there was a progression, like this:

  1. The server stumbled. We all have bad days. (First instance.)
  2. The server tripped up again. Sorry about that! (2nd and 3rd instances.)
  3. The server is having a problem. So sorry! (4th and 5th instances.)
  4. Our server failed to handle your request. We’ve logged all the failures, and technicians will be looking into it. If you’d like to speak to someone, please contact Support at +1 (123) 456-7890. (Every instance after 5.)

The point being, sure, if the error is very rare, you might try playful language. But after the error becomes a frequent problem, the error message can both offer another path and it can take ownership of the problem.

User experience, web, technology

Vacationing near Munising, MI today

Management User experience, web, technology

Organizational Physics OmniGraffle Stencil

I’ve lately been working on redesigning the organizational structure of Covenant Eyes, and amidst all of the research, analysis, and modeling, I was referred to Lex Sisney’s work in Organizational Physics.

There are plenty of interesting concepts that he raises, and I’m inclined to get his book and read it.

In the meantime, I’m reasoning by modeling, and thought to mimic an approach he’s shown in articles like this one: Organizational Design: The Difference Between Organizational Structure and an Org Chart.

I threw together a stencil to use in OmniGraffle.

Screen shot of OmniGraffle stencil for Organizational Design
Here’s what the OmniGraffle stencil looks like. Major functional area and related KPIs, and sub-functional areas.

Anyone is welcome to it: Organizational Design.gstencil

Management User experience, web, technology

Does design precede strategy?

Is UX more strategic than other business disciplines? I was surprised by this fair critique, and wanted to share it.

My reaction is exacerbated by your [Davin’s] view of strategy and UX as largely coupled. Any quality business work should be strategic. Many financial services firms don’t have anything resembling a UX/design arm, but they’re not necessarily less strategic for it. Is UX a really important resource for strategy here at CE? Sure. But so is tech, finance, etc. Have our UX practitioners developed more strategy-oriented disciplines than employees in other departments? Probably in many cases. I think that simply means we need to deepen our corporate thinking about strategy; not necessarily make UX the guardians of strategy.
Anonymous colleague

There is so much packed in there! For the sake of clarity, I’ll list what I read as the rationale.

  1. Any quality business work should be strategic, not solely UX.
  2. Our UX practitioners have probably developed more strategy-oriented disciplines than employees in other departments.
  3. Instead of relying on UX for strategy, we should train employees in all departments that do quality business work on strategy-oriented disciplines.

I heartily agree with point 2, even with the word “probably.” After all, not all of our UX practitioners have had the same development or have the same sets of talents. It’s a complex group. But I do know that many of them have deepened their expertise in areas that are notably related to strategy.

How does design fit with Playing to Win’s strategy questions?

Which areas of UX are related to strategy? Well, it depends on how you define strategy. For one definition, let’s try the set of 5 questions from Martin and Lafley’s Playing to Win. I’ve listed each question with a sub-point of my opinion about who should be directly involved.

  1. What is our winning aspiration?
    1. The board and executive team need to establish this.
  2. Where will we play?
    1. UX informs executives who decide. UX has insight for this from qual+quant research distilled into personas and related demo/psychographic models.
  3. How will we win?
    1. UX informs executives who decide. UX has insight for this from a product/service innovation perspective, validated by insights from design research and knowledge of other related or competing products and services.
  4. What capabilities must we have in place to win?
    1. Executives need to establish this, including deciding what is outsourced and what is done in-house.
  5. What management systems are required to support our choices?
    1. Executives and managers need to establish this.

Don’t forget that the work of each question informs the reasoning for the adjacent questions.

By definition, strategy is most like design than other disciplines

Now for another definition, this one focused on, well, definitions.

UX is a discipline of design. What is the definition of design? Here is a generic definition: purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.

And a definition of strategy: a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.

The similarity between these is obvious upon inspection. If they aren’t the same, they are least remarkably similar, with a possible interpretation that design precedes strategy (…policy designed to achieve…).

Now, how does the definition of finance line up: the management of large amounts of money, especially by governments or large companies.

That doesn’t really fit. How about the definition of technology: the application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry.

Nope. Also not like strategy.

I’m not playing semantic games here. I’m just looking for the most obvious definitions. So in an effort to find a definition that really has a better chance at being like strategy, here is a definition of business management: Management is commonly defined as the alignment and coordination of multiple activities in an organization. Business owners use management skills to accomplish the goals and objectives of their company.

That too isn’t like the general definition of strategy. However, it is more like the 5th question of Playing to Win. So, business management is a component of strategy, especially for the execution of strategy.

Why would designers end up doing strategy?

Definitions aside, why would UX practitioners, of all types of employee, do strategy work in the first place? Because design activities often lead towards strategy.

Or, as I’ve witnessed, designers in the midst of a specific project often back themselves into strategy by asking questions that their discipline leads them to ask, questions like “Why would we do it that way? How else could we approach this?” and “What does the business need, and what do the users need?” and “What are we really trying to make happen, and for whom?”

One might say that these questions aren’t from the design discipline, but I would point out that these are questions bent on pulling out a deeper understanding of the situation. This deeper understanding is demanded when modernist designer Massimo Vignelli preaches his semantics: “The very first thing that I do whenever I start a new assignment in any form of design, graphic, product, exhibition or interior is to search for the meaning of it.” This sentiment was also expressed by architect and designer Elial Saarinen in his principle of designing a thing in its next larger context.

Indeed, this need to understand the larger context, the purpose, and the meaning is embedded in the discipline of design, and this is why designers end up negotiating strategy, which often is that larger context.

It may surprise you how frequently it is the designers—not managers, executives, or owners—who have first asked the deep questions of strategy. And these designers may not feel safe asking these questions, but they must ask if they will do their jobs well.

I expect designers to wrangle with real strategy in their daily work, because it is in the nature of design, birthed by the practical, empathy-building gut-checks of real design research with real people and the creative, prototyping and modeling activities and thought patterns of design work. I don’t expect this kind of raw strategy development from other workers, and I have only rarely experienced it from them, with the exception of some executives.

And I’ll be so bold as to claim this: this tendency to inevitably end up asking strategy questions seems absent in other kinds of work. If you disagree, then make the case and let me know. (The critique that started all of this said that other disciplines should do this, not that they do.)

Should everyone do design? Do strategy?

Rolling all the way back to the initial claims, I disagree with the 1st point that quality business work must be strategic. I’d rather see these other disciplines do excellent, dare I say quality, business work in their discipline.

I do not believe that doing quality accounting work means developing clear strategies. And I don’t believe that of technology or of customer service either. That doesn’t make them any less valuable or less necessary. They really are, and they have unique value to offer. They are essential in the machinery of the business.

But so far as design work is like sound planning for a major aim, then design work is strategy work. And the training of designers lends itself to it already.

My conclusion is more that I think executives and key managers probably do need training in design thinking—and possibly even some design tactics—so that they will benefit like designers have in their ability to do better development of overall business strategy. But executives and managers should already be studying the discipline of strategy anyway.

User experience, web, technology

“Click Here,” MS Outlook, Seriously?

How is it that such poor wording made it into such a major product, here in late 2015?

Basic web writing practices identified the “click here” language as a poor option well over a decade ago. What makes “click here” a bad choice?

One reason is that you end up with a lot of links on a page that all say the same thing (click here), and a common feature in assistive technology like screen readers for blind or visually impaired people is to pull all link text out of page context to give those users a quick way to scan all the links. If they all say “click here,” then a user will have no idea which link to choose.

A second reason is that the link text is highlighted, usually in blue and underlined, and so ought to be meaningful. “Click here” is not meaningful, but the subject or goal of the link sure is.

Here are pretty easy ways to change the language in Outlook.

Instead of “To re-enable to blocked features, click here,” try this:
Re-enable the blocked features.

Instead of “To always show content from this sender, click here,” try this:
Always show content from this sender.


Management User experience, web, technology

Five-Time Inc. 5000 Honoree: Covenant Eyes

While I don’t often write about work on my blog, I’m happy to share the news that Covenant Eyes made the Inc. 5000 list again this year, now having made it 5 times since 2010.

Congratulations Covenant Eyes on pursuing your worthy mission with successful business practices!

And while not an official award, shows good reviews of Covenant Eyes as an employer.

Management User experience, web, technology

On Leading Organization-wide Change

Lao Tzu described the essence of an effective leader, which as I interpret it is one who is excellent at drawing the best out of other people and facilitating groups to work together toward a common objective, quickly empowering others to lead change and grow as leaders, managers, or producers in their own right.

Tao Te Ching, 17 (Lao Tzu)

The greatest type of ruler is one of whose existence
the people are hardly aware.

Next best is a leader who is loved and praised.
Next comes the one who is feared.
The worst is the one who is despised.

When a leader doesn’t trust the people,
they will become untrustworthy.

The best leader speaks little.
He never speaks carelessly.
He works without self interest
and leaves no trace.

When the work is accomplished,
the people say: “Amazing:
we did it all by ourselves.”

Of course there are numerous scriptural descriptions of leadership, such as Matthew 20:25–28 when the disciples were getting riled up about who would be a leader or favored and Jesus instructed, “Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is held in contrast to the Gentiles who lord authority over others instead of serving. And there is also the example of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as an example for them to humble themselves in serving one another.

This is good, right?

My experience says that the only real way to change an organization in any sustainable way is captured in this concept, but there is more to it than these proverbs.

So, here’s an overview of how I’ve tried to make these changes at Covenant Eyes.

  • Design Thinking
  • Awareness of Healthy Decision Making
  • Consulting: Developing Others by Asking Better Questions
  • Actions Speak Louder Than Words; Behaviors Change Perspectives

I’ll provide a fly-over of what these mean to me one at a time.

Design Thinking

Many others have already characterized what this means, among them Tim Brown of IDEO, and in my view, Massimo Vignelli especially in the first part of The Vignelli Canon, although I don’t think he ever called it design thinking. You’ll also see examples of this in the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.

I think it all hinges on one concept, said by Fr John Culkin in his thoughtful partnerships with philosopher Marshall McLuhan, “First we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

Most people are naively shaped by their own tools, including designers themselves. Tools are simply part of our environment, and most often they are provided for us already intact. As consumers, we don’t typically make our own tools, whether it is a house, fork, computer, software program, et cetera. Yet, this massive collection of objects that we use in our lives fundamentally influences, even directs, our behaviors and our thoughts.

As a designer I see this daily, and I believe that it is the worthy purpose of a designer to take care in the shaping of tools, knowing that the shape of those tools will in turn shape people. This is a crucial sense of responsibility that comes with real cause and effect, and it is further heightened when one has a sense of how many people use said tool and how long it may be in existence.

Should we not take care of our work upon realizing that it can effect the world for good or ill? Of course!

Design is sometimes misconstrued as the attention on the creation of an object, but that is too narrow. It is on the humans, their relationship with an object, the object, and how that reflects back into the lives of the humans. In being used, a thing influences the user’s actions and attention. So we do not only design a thing, we design a potential for actions, thoughts, and feelings between people and things. And often between people and things and people. And to what end, and for whom? (This is a better understanding of the field of interaction design.)

Vignelli refers to design process as first about the semantics or meaning of the design task, then the syntactics used in the construction of a solution, and then in the pragmatics that describe the real communication and/or delivery of value.

The AIGA (America Institute of Graphic Arts) published a booklet called Why Design that contains a grid of 12 boxes laid out in 3 rows that describes an overall design process. I can give you a printed copy of this grid. The first row arranges the work needed in Defining the Problem, the second row describes Innovating, and the third row describes Delivering Value. I propose that Vignelli’s semantics, syntactics, and pragmatics resemble the rows of the Why Design grid. These and other frameworks of design thinking all describe a general process used by designers in coming up with effective solutions to all sorts of problems.

Design is a problem solving discipline, and has many cross-overs with healthy decision making, including the concept of divergence and convergence.

Awareness of Healthy Decision Making

I think of decisions and decision making in three zones, personal, small group, and corporate. We are not rational beings! Yet decision making often benefits from a disciplined approach that challenges many of our natural cognitive biases. Some decisions are inconsequential and so don’t really require all this extra effort, but some are of consequence and deserve respect.

Michael Roberto has a series of 24 lectures called The Art of Critical Decision Making, and it is an excellent study. I require my staff to go through it together, and they are often surprised at how many principles of decision making directly correlate to patterns of work they find in design thinking.

Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions is a book that describes a series of cognitive traps that we are all in danger of falling in to. These are listed as the following and the book expounds on each. I think you’d find it an interesting read.

  1. Exposure Anxiety: The Fear of Being Seen as Weak
  2. Causefusion: Confusing the Causes of Complex Events
  3. Flatview: Seeing the World in One Dimension
  4. Cure-allism: Believing That One Size Really Fits All
  5. Infomania: The Obsessive Relationship to Information (Info-hoarding and Info-voiding)
  6. Mirror Imaging: Thinking the Other Side Thinks Like Us
  7. Static Cling: Refusal to Accept a Changing World

If one does not understand the threats to good decision making and does not have a toolbox of good decision making methods useful at personal, group, and corporate levels, then one is ill-equipped to lead and coach others through times that require healthy decisions.

Consulting: Developing Others by Asking Better Questions

When I was a freshman in college, I had the good fortune of going through a 400-level special topics course focused on the work of consulting. It has been very influential for me ever since.

One of the key elements of consultancy that I learned was the deliberate control of agency, that is the sense of self-differentiation and authority. A lack of agency leads to a sense of being helpless or dependent on another, but as a consultant I was learning that my job was to develop a sense of agency in my clients so that they would retain a sense of ownership and power over their own work, and while I was at it I would demonstrate for them better ways of thinking, creating information, and sharing it with others (think classical rhetoric) so that they too would learn it.

I did this largely through using non-verbal reinforcement of my client’s agency and open-ended questions intended to get them thinking in more ways and deeper ways that led them to produce better work.

Key here was that I was unable to tell them what to work on communicating. Rather I was only able to walk with them through a method or framework of idea development and ways of thinking about authorship, audiences, and rhetorical patterns.

This approach melds nicely with design thinking, because one of the first admissions is that we may not really understand the problem yet, but that we do have frameworks to uncover it and discover its nuances.

So, sources for thinking about asking better questions?

  • QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John Miller
  • Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal
  • Mental Models by Indi Young
  • Sections of Observing the User Experience by Kuniavsky, et al.

We should have a number of these books in the CE library in the Commons.

There is a basic concept here that says that a question is more powerful than an answer, because an answer tends to shut down thoughtfulness and understanding whereas a question stimulates it.

Asking better questions is an element in the power of a generative dialectic, and the practice also feeds better design thinking and decision making. Reciprocally, those frameworks inform the sorts of questions we should ask.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The trick in this statement is in reestablishing who the actor is. My actions are one thing, but when I can get a whole group of people to engage in a shared action, we can begin to shape their perspectives.

First we shape our tools, thereafter our tools shape us.

A leader can shape the activities of people, and in many cases the real desired effect is not the immediate result of the activity, but in the shaping of the people who do it. Without changes in activity and thinking, no incidence of effort is able to be transformed into a sustainable pattern of effort.

This is how new actions lead to new thinking, which together change the culture. Timothy Loo, a corporate UX consultant, shared the soundbite at the UX Strat 2013 conference, “culture eats strategy for lunch,” and he’s right. So the work of a designer is to change culture by changing people’s behaviors and then thinking.

As Loo said, “Culture tells us how to behave when we can’t turn to formal directives, agreements or sets of rules for guidance.” So, culture fills in the grey area that we usually operate within.

We must facilitate group activities repeatedly and employ frameworks of understanding and developing value so that the people who are doing the work have a sense of ownership, agency, and growth. Then they will sustain the change because that way of thinking has become part of their new identities. “Amazing: We did it all by ourselves!”

This is why we do usability studies as groups, why we do design reviews as groups, why we do Agile ceremonies as groups, and so on.

If we want to change the culture of an organization, we should identify what activities we do together and facilitate new activities that can be added to or can replace existing activities so that we will further shape our perspectives, values, and culture in specific, desirable ways.

Davin User experience, web, technology

In pursuit of paper

I pay attention to paper that I use for printing. Trivial? Maybe, yet I do care.

I care about the paper weight, brightness, dimensions, finish, and sometimes even what the paper fibers feel like. There seems to be a variety of fibers in paper, and, my, isn’t that interesting?

Yet, although I care about these factors, I haven’t found an online purveyor of paper who appears to also care. Sigh!

This has bothered me now for years, but, dear readers, I fear that if I were to share these troubles, you would not know what I’m talking about, or, more likely, simply wouldn’t care.

Apparently, my online search for paper this evening has finally nudged me just outside that zone of tacit disappointment.

So here’s the quixotic-windmill-tilt I’ve given up on this evening.

My goal: buy a ream of white A4 sized paper, reasonably bright, just a little heavier than normal, like 24lb (90 g/m²).

Simple, right?

A Google search led me to trusty where I found a ream of 20lb A4 paper by Hammermill/International Paper. So, so close.

I didn’t see an obvious way of finding 24 lb A4 paper, so I went directly the Hammermill website. Surely, the paper company would present me with a lovely catalog of papers and I would find precisely what I sought, while perhaps also discovering papers that I’d also like. It would be an excellent distraction!

Alas, it wasn’t so.

Really, what I wanted was a faceted classification of papers, so I could quickly filter down the catalog of papers.

Here are some facets that come to mind.

Color: White, Beige, (and so on)

Size: International sizes like A0 to A10, US sizes like Letter (8.5X11), Legal, Tabloid, etc. And so on.

Weight: 20lb, 24lb, 32lb, and so on. These should include weights in g/m².

Brightness: 90, 92, 94, 96, 98, 100, and so on. (I don’t know the range or increments.)

Finish: Matte, Glossy, etc.

Percent recycled: up to 100%

And maybe, uses: photo prints, standard copier or inkjet printer paper, etc.

I’m curious, does anyone know of an online paper vendor who actually has something like this in place?

Until then, I shall persevere with my ream of Staples brand multipurpose paper, 96 bright, 24 lb, letter-sized, 50% recycled.

User experience, web, technology

And this is what I get…

Poorly designed travel mug from a colleague
Chad, a manager at work, kindly gave me this mug and the note. Ahh, this is what I get for the user experience evangelization!

Davin Management User experience, web, technology

Five Whys, Socratic Method, and Dependent Arising

Root cause analysis—jargon for managers in lean startups and Agile dev shops. In plain language, isn’t it “Well, I hear what you’re saying, but what’s really going on?”

I feel a rambling, messy first draft coming on.

Why in the world do we need jargon for such a common line of reasoning? This is every day stuff, isn’t it?

  • Parents ask each other in whispers at night: “But why is she acting out like this all of a sudden? Is it those kids at school again?”
  • A doctor sees the symptoms and begins to diagnose the cause.
  • Marriage counselors around the country today coached couples to understand their partners a little better.

Yes, and an Agile team somewhere held a 5 whys session to figure out how that persnickety bug made it through testing, so that they could address the root cause.

Oh, pardon my cynicism, I have trouble writing that line with a straight face; if the team didn’t actually discern the root cause (there’s always just one, right?), they will have at least changed something to avoid one of the causes. How else to get better, really?

I’m being too jaded. Of course root cause analysis, the 5 whys method is one tactic for such analysis, is important. I just cringe at the assumption of a single cause for problems. And those technical problems that are found with lean and agile work often end up (or is that start off as) being human problems, and those are rarely so singular.

In design work, I really don’t know that I’ve asked the question, “So, what is the root cause of this problem?” Though I have most often sought to understand and clarify the problem space, the context, the people involved, their desires and motivations, the corporate interests, et cetera—you know, the basic stuff a designer needs to know in order to actually do good work [PDF].

I simply cannot right out of the gate assume I know what I don’t yet know so well that I would presume it, if it is indeed an it, is a singular problem. The result of that kind of simplistic framing would tend towards imprecise assumptions and lack of multiple perspectives. A lack of understanding. And don’t those sound like further problems that could result in errors? Garbage-in, garbage-out.

So, if I can kick the feet out from under Agile’s dumbed down root cause analysis and just stick with something more like defining the problem, or semantics (as Vignelli has used it), I’ll relax on this point.

Can I assume that this better understanding is what we’re all actually after?

I was in a meeting once, asking deeper questions, and a person I was talking with was frustrated and said something like, “I know all about five whys, I know what you’re doing!” The person was asking me to back off, because he wasn’t prepared to answer questions. While that does make the point to me that I was pushing too hard, I wasn’t expecting the five whys remark.

I was actually patterning the discussion more off of Socrates and his dialogues. I’ve heard the term Socratic Method being described as continuing to question, to ask why. Well, yeah, that sounds like a 5 whys, but I’ve read Plato enough that I understand that those dialogues are far more nuanced than a series of whys.

Wasn’t the philosophical discourse of Socrates and his learned colleagues some sort of root cause analysis too? Is a discourse into the nature of the soul and idealized Forms an analysis? Of course, and there is an aspect of Phaedo that suggests that these Forms are in fact causal forces. I’d call that root cause analysis.

So, this type of “what’s really going on here?” question isn’t just for work any more, it’s for philosophy and an understanding of the world itself (yeah, even though we all believe Socrates had it wrong).

And this question of the underlying problem is common too in religion, isn’t it? What’s wrong with the world? With us humans?! I call a five whys for the fallen world!

I joke, but Buddhists might associate this notion of root cause analysis with another bit of jargon: dependent arising.

As I’ve learned, when Gautama sat in profound ascetic meditation under the Bodhi-tree, nourished by an offering of rice milk, and under the gazes of the gods of many world-systems, he finally received enlightenment. In his awakening under that auspicious tree, he knew what are called the four noble truths (knowledge of suffering, cause of suffering, cessation of suffering, and the path that leads to that cessation).

And yes one of those truths, central to a major world religion, is the root cause of suffering! (Oh, if only an Agile 5 whys was so profound!) The cause of suffering is actually described as a nested layering of causes, which finally reach that singular kernel that causes suffering (duhkha). This is the notion of dependent arising, that suffering arises dependent upon all these other links in the chain. When I read the series of links, I still don’t think it comes down to a simple answer, but the answer itself isn’t the single cause, but the whole chain of dependent arising is part of it. You don’t disassemble it so much as sidestep the whole chain. And yes, that’s quite an oversimplification. Here’s a bit of that root cause analysis as dependent arising (there are 12 links/nidana).

Conditioned by (1) ignorance are (2) formations, conditioned by formations is (3) consciousness, conditioned by consciousness is (4) mind-and-body, conditioned by mind-and-body are (5) the six senses, conditioned by the six-senses is (6) sense-contact, conditioned by sense-contact is (7) feeling, conditioned by feeling is (8) craving, conditioned by craving is (9) grasping, conditioned by grasping is (10) becoming, conditioned by becoming is (11) birth, conditioned by birth is (12) old-age and death—grief, lamentation, pain, sorrow, and despair come into being. Thus is the arising of this whole mass of suffering.
(Gethin, The Foundations of Buddhism, 141-142)

This doesn’t strike me as mono-causal, even though it sounds like it at the end of the chain: death results in a whole mass of suffering. Well, how do you get rid of death, then? Will you get rid of birth?

Right, and so the whole tangled up ball of yarn gets pulled along. There are many causes, and there are many results. This strikes me not just as dependent arising, but interdependent arising. Duhkha, I shake my fist at you!

So, again, this root cause analysis thing is all over the place: work, family life, health, philosophy, religion. But doesn’t it tend to not be simply understood as singular causes? (Christianity seems easier to me, until I try to put a finger on where exactly original sin came in: fruit, gullible Adam, Eve, serpent, why was the tree there to begin with? It gets messy too.)

Let me end this rant, I mean blog post, by saying simply, using terms that suggest we think of single causes to complex problems is foolishness and it bugs me.

(Oh, and the 5 whys method looks a lot more like dependent arising to me than the Socratic method.)