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The Latent Cause Analysis

Go Page Guiding Beliefs

Guiding Beliefs

As you respond to assignments, you will often encounter unexpected or unusual circumstances. Just as it is impossible to have procedures and checklists for all possible scenarios in the businesses that we service, it is also impossible to have them for all possible cases of “helping people learn from things that go wrong.” A common set of beliefs is what will unite us and make us a valuable and unique resource for organizations that need our help. The following thoughts are meant to capture our hopefully-shared beliefs.

Guiding Beliefs about "Evidence"


  • Everything we need to know about our existence is staring us right in the face, if we’d only take time to look.

  • Everything we need to know about improving ourselves is contained within our failures – everything.

  • Evidence tries to talk to us, just like a person.

  • Everything we need to know about improving ourselves has been sensed in some way by people. People know everything about why things go wrong.

  • We know that something goes wrong because it manifests itself in some way. The manifestation itself can also tell us a lot about a problem.

  • We leave a trail behind us as we live in this world. This historical trail can also tell us a lot about a problem.

  • We all see life through a “filter.” The filter is composed of all of our life’s experiences. These filters get in our way when we are looking at evidence. Therefore, it is imperative to get many perspectives to help make sure we’re seeing everything the evidence is trying to tell us.


Guiding Beliefs about Human Beings


  • Human beings cause problems, not systems.

  • All human beings cause problems. There are no exceptions.

  • Human beings cause all problems (things that ought not to have happened in the systems they have created).

  • It is vital not to sidestep the human being (and his behavior) when trying to understand the causes of a problem.

  • Although it is against our nature to look at ourselves as part of our own problems, we cannot truly grow without doing it.

  • Things that go wrong can fundamentally change “the way we are” if we are willing to look at ourselves as a contributor to whatever happened.

Guiding Beliefs about Confrontation ("Forced Discovery")


  • When something goes wrong in someone’s life, they are supposed to learn from it. Organizations ought to assure that they learn from things that go wrong.

  • It is much more effective to allow people to discover the causes of their problems instead of merely telling them what we think.

  • Fundamental change does not occur without pain. No pain, no gain.

Guiding Beliefs about Physical, Human, and Latent Causes


  • Physical phenomena have physical causes.

  • When the above physical phenomena occurs within a system that humans have created, then the above physical causes are enabled by human action (or inaction).

  • Human beings are the interface between the physical and spiritual worlds. They are the point at which all the unseen forces manifest themselves. We call these unseen forces “latent causes.”

Guiding Beliefs about Latency


  • It is vital not to stop at the human being (and his behavior) without understanding how his behavior was influenced by other things and other people.

  • Our thoughts are the cause of all our behavior.

  • Our thoughts are influenced by our physical and interpersonal surroundings.

  • It is vital to understand why people do what they do to such an extent we’re convinced we’d have done the same thing, no matter what level of the organization we’re considering. This is called “the Golden Rule of an LCA.”

  • If people do not follow this Golden Rule, they’ll merely end-up “blaming one another.”

  • It is difficult, if not impossible, to see the merry-go-round when one has been on it too long. Experts, by definition, have been on the merry-go-round for a long, long time.

  • It is easy for someone to see the merry-go-round when they step onto it the first time. Ignorance is bliss when attempting to help people see differently.

  • The 2 fundamental latency questions are:

    What is it about the way we are that contributes to our problems?

    What is it about the way I am that contributes to our problems?

Guiding Beliefs about Accountability


  • No-one comes to work with the intent of causing harm. In the rare case when they do, they should be subjected to our criminal justice system.

  • Most people will not share what they know if they think it will result in their harm.

  • No-one should be punished after something that has gone wrong. By then, it is too late.

  • No person should be allowed to blame any other person or thing (when something goes wrong).  Instead, all involved people should be required to look at themselves as part of the problem.

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