Why ask why?

The woman next to me on the flight had thin, sharpened spikes, two of them, eight inches long. They’re called knitting needles, and they’re allowed on the plane. The guy on the other side was bemoaning the fact that they took away his nail clippers.

The little kid in row 8 had to walk 35 rows back to the back of the plane to use the bathroom because it’s a grave breach of security for him to use the empty and close bathroom 7 rows in front.

They x-ray sneakers at LaGuardia.

The hotel sent me down the street to a health club because the hotel’s workout room was under construction. The health club wouldn’t let me use the facitilities until I filled a form with my name and full address and contact information. Why? Insurance regulations. Apparently the same reason you can’t watch the mechanic repair your car or visit the kitchen of the restaurant.

My doctor’s office doesn’t have a fax machine.

The stellar Maison de Chocolate cafe in New York doesn’t serve herbal tea.

The government of New York makes it illegal to buy wine on the Internet.

If your front line people are unable to answer a “why” question, what do you tell them to do?

Most bureaucracies don’t want the whys working their way up the chain. Most bureaucracies encourage their people to be the first and only line of defense. “That’s our policy.” “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about that.” “Insurance regulations, sir.” The goal is to get the customer (questioner) to go away.

To go away.

They want you to go away.

Does that make any sense at all? The single most efficient (and lowest cost) technique for improving your operations is answering the why questions! You should embrace these people, not send them away.

“You know, sir, I have no idea why you have to do that. But I can tell you that I’ll find out before the end of the day.”