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?

 

 

 

Have you identified the Root Cause of the problem? Part 1

Where there’s a challenge, especially a heated challenge, fraught with emotion and maybe even outrage, we can be quick question markto solve the problem by solving to a symptom of the problem — not the root cause. When we solve for symptoms the challenge is temporarily relieved however the imbedded challenges will likely grow and fester over time.

The most recent example I’m seeing of the situation being referred to as the “White Out” of the Academy Award nominations. The outstanding movie Concussion (excellent movie go – go see it) somehow incredibly did not receive one nomination.

How could this happen? The lead character was played flawlessly by Will Smith, Mr. Smith mastered a Nigerian accent and captured the essence of Dr. Omalu while not mimicking him. Alec Baldwin follows with a compelling supporting performance making you believe he’s Dr. Julian Bailes, Louisiana native struggling with the ethics of his past behavior and the challenges he’s facing today. I’m sure every man in the theater was watching and aching for the beautiful GuGu Mbatha-Raw envying her love and support – isn’t this every man who wants to marry’s dream? To find a woman like this? Who doesn’t want to work for a man with the integrity Albert Brooks displays as Dr. Cyril Wecht? I was immersed in this film – end to end. I was transformed. I forgot they were actors. I learned and grew, I don’t know much about football so I was broadened by learning about the ugly underbelly of this revered sport.

I went to see this movie Christmas Week. I walked into a local downtown Chicago theater with the intention of seeing this movie. The topic appealed to me and I admire Will Smith. The young man that sold me a ticket said “I hear this movie is really good, we have lots of seats left. It’s the only movie that has seats available (unusual at Christmas time) Star Wars is sold out for 3 weeks.”

We’re living in painful time in America with difficult conversations occurring around race relations. I especially feel it and am aware of it in Chicago. Tensions are high.

The solution to the White Out has been to change the face of the academy to better reflect the diversity of actors and the United States. Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith will boycott the Academy Awards. Others will boycott in support. The Academy, motivated by fear of confrontation and likely remorse, is making some quick and sweeping changes to the structure of the Academy.

If the Academy were to hire me to analyze this problem – I’d start by asking questions. I’d want to look at this challenge from top, the bottom and the middle. I’d want to talk to people who were passionate about the problem. I’d want to hear their views. I’d want to hear from those who were apathetic. I’d want to learn. After I assessed the challenge (not sure at this point if the solution is to change the racial and gender dynamic of the Academy), I’d make a recommendation. Check tomorrow’s post to find out what questions I’d ask . . .