I promise that this will be my last reference to this article, “The infinite hows”, that is on the O’Reilly website. My last quote refers again to the investigations carried out after things go wrong – sometimes called postmortems in the IT world. I’ve written before here how people only really get the answers they want to hear when investigating why shoddy IT happens.
This last quote is attributed to John Carroll (Carroll, 1995), and describes what is called the “root cause seduction”:
The identification of a root cause means that the analysis has found the source of the event and so everyone can focus on fixing the problem. This satisfies people’s need to avoid ambiguous situations in which one lacks essential information to make a decision (Frisch & Baron, 1988) or experiences a salient knowledge gap (Loewenstein, 1993). The seductiveness of singular root causes may also feed into, and be supported by, the general tendency to be overconfident about how much we know (Fischhoff, Slovic,& Lichtenstein, 1977).
I would change that a little. rather than getting everyone to “focus on fixing the problem”, it’s my experience that people are focused on fixing a problem – something that can be loosely attributed to the IT issue that occurred, but it may not always necessarily be the actual reason for the issue occurring – merely the most palatable problem that can be acknowledged and easily resolved.