I recall babysitting my niece a few years back when she was about three. She was at an age where she loved to have a chat and would ask heaps of questions. Actually, scrap that. I’m wrong. She liked to ask one particular question. A question that was so succinct but would drive me crazy. And for every answer I had she would follow up with that same question. Her question was “Why?”.
There would be no end to her repetitious “Why” unless I did something. I’m actually surprised my patience lasted as long to as it did when I eventually ended with asking her “Why” as my answer. I knew I had won that round when she paused and then thoughtfully responded with ‘Mmmmm’ accompanied by a cute smile and giggle. I have no idea what we talked about except for her constantly asking ‘Why’. Five minutes later, the game started again.
My observation across a few spaces SCN made me think about my niece and her thirst for knowledge. This got me wondering: Why is it that as a child we have an incessant desire to find out the WHY in life but lose that curiosity as adults? Do we get to the point in life where everything is hectic and we just want to the comfort of knowing how and what we must do to get through the day (or the latest SAP incident)? Does work become more manageable when every situation can be reduced to a process flow with a few repeatable steps? Success is guaranteed if I follow these <insert number> to achieve <insert goal>… apparently.
Learning “how” is an important first step to mastering the system. And sometimes learning the basic steps build the confidence we need to continue to the next level. After all, we have to begin somewhere. A beginner must demonstrate their basic understanding of a system before being allowed access (or we can hope). Typically they would demonstrate this through training and a regurgitation of the steps. But wrote learning cannot be the only part of the equation.
I remember interviewing for a junior SAP Security Consultant and I asked them about CUA (central user administration). They gave me the correct steps to configure it but they could not tell my why changes fail to process or how to identify a potential problem in the system. Their focus and education was on learning the steps but they failed at knowing when to go “off script” and deviate from their set of instructions as they did not understand how the CUA works. They never thought to ask their teacher why. Their confidence in answering the how failed them when I asked why.
You may wonder why the curiosity? Mastering the skill of why means we can make better decisions. It means we can identify the root cause. If we know how and why the systems functions the way it does, we can decide which option is better. If we understand impacts and consequences we will know when we should choose one option over the other. We can then ask: Is there a better way to design this system? And, if we’re ever stuck with a red, nasty error message and there is no-one available in the office (or even on SCN) to help us out, we might just be able to critically analyse the error and figure it out ourselves (of course if we already asked SCN we would pop back in and share the solution).
My advice to you: rediscover your inner child and get curious. Start asking why. Even if you only take the moment to ask yourself. It’s a skill worth developing. Next time you ask someone how you should do something don’t forget to ask them why – after all, in SAP there is more than one way!
What are your thoughts? Do you wish more people took the time to figure out why?