How do you identify the Root Cause? Part 2


Start by Asking Questions . . . and then listen deeply to the answers.


“The greatest challenge with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”   — George Bernard Shaw, Playwright


To begin to assess whether or not the movie Concussion did not receive an Oscar nomination due to racism I would ask the following questions to attempt to identify the root cause:

  • Does the Academy see all the films they will vote on? If not, why not?
  • Is the Academy qualified to vote on the films they watch from a technical aspect?
  • Was the topic of exposing some ugly history in football too painful? Many people are passionate about football. They may have played the game themselves or have children that played. They may have children or family members playing football right now. Would seeing this film require people to acknowledge some uncomfortable truths? What are the Academy’s ties to the NFL?
  • Concussion was filmed while those involved are still living. Do members of the Academy have relationships with professionals that were involved?
  • I learned Mike Webster was Philadelphia’s favorite son. Do those that knew Mike Webster and his family during this painful time now feel remorse? Would it be easier to bury this topic and move on?
  • The movie was rated PG-13. Do ratings matter? Would the movie have been more attended with a rating of R? Would more sex or violence attract a broader audience?
  • PG 13 allows children over 13. Are children asking to see this type of movie? Does the commercial success of a movie affect Academy votes?
  • The movie was released in November. Does the timing of the release of a movie affect the Academy’s vote? Will the Academy remember movies they saw in the early part of the year? Will they be required to watch them again to have a fresh or new memory? Does anyone monitor how many times the Academy watches a film? Are their ratings and votes evaluated? If so, how? If not, why not?
  • Are Americans uncomfortable with a foreigner challenging something as sacred as the sanctity of American football? Do the immigration issues we face today play a part in the way Americans view Dr. Omalu?
  • Will changing the racial and gender diversity of the Academy solve for the problem? What criteria will be used to evaluate movies and performances with a new more diverse Academy? Will the new Academy be required to see the films? How will they evaluate films where they no little about the topic or they are uncomfortable with the subject matter?


These questions would lead to more questions, ultimately creating a new foundation based on all the voices involved For those of a technical bent, an Ishikawa chart can help:



root cause


Right now, the pain of the conversations is influencing the Academy to solve for symptoms to quiet the angry voices and to put some quick band aids on uncomfortable truths.

Will the new, more diverse make up of the Academy solve for the problem or will it put a new face on deeply rooted issues?




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