Six Degrees of Separation

Frigyes Karinthy was a Hungarian author, playwright and journalist in the early part of the 20th century.  In the1929 short story, “Chains” he proposed that any two people are not more than six introductions away from each other.

Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota proposed something similar.  The Five Whys.  In his method, the problem and the source of the problem are within five whys of each other.  Generally in the form of why- because, followed by why the because and so on until the root cause of the problem becomes apparent.

Most things in life are connected.  Sometimes a reason becomes lost in the repetition of everyday events.  The cue is “we always do that this way.”  There is usually a reason the procedure is in place, but no one knows if it is still relevant.  Careful analysis will often find something unexpected.

Be careful of the standards that you accept as self-evident.

W. Edwards Deming was an American quality control specialist and the inventor of the statistical analysis of defects.  His view was that most were designed in, and by careful study one could address the root cause.  The five whys may have fallen out from this because Toyota was one of his early clients.

We can all improve our lives if we question the standards from time to time.  How did I come to accept some income amount as right for a month?  How did I come to believe that we must vote a certain way, raise our children a certain way or be a certain weight?

Questioning standards induces freedom to choose.  Failure to do so perpetuates possibly ineffective tactics.

Think of standards as being chains of reasoning and it will become possible to change.  Without that, the excuse of normal will prevail.  Standards become mental crutches that we rely upon for support when challenged.

Sometimes the five whys and the six degrees of separation work together.  Why is so and so not in my client list?  Because I have too little skill to help them.  Now that I have gained the skills, why.  There will be several possible reasons but usually they end with because I do not know them.  If do not know them is the impediment who do you know who knows them or who do they know that knows them?  The six degrees of separation.

Build your network.  If you think about it and have a reasonable network, there are few people in your geographic area who are more than two handshakes away.  LinkedIn may be a useful tool.

When you have a defined path, it is easier to approach your destination.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. Contact: 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: