Root Cause Stories
During a recent school improvement training we asked, “Why is the wild owl population in India decreasing?”
After suspending disbelief that this question had anything to do with school improvement, the audience called out possibilities such as:
- Migration patterns
- Loss of habitat
They seem plausible, but to pursue them would be folly as none of those would address the cause for the dwindling owl population.
Unfortunately too often school improvement teams, in their sense of urgency to “fix” the problem , forget to study the problem and possible solutions. They forget that they likely need more data to confirm or deny any of their hypotheses. Time consuming work for sure, but better than the alternative… working on solutions that will have little to no effect on the issue.
Victoria Burnhart in her article Multiple Measures indicates that Demographic and Achievement data are insufficient to identify root cause e.g. Number of owls this year compared to last year. Instead additional data is needed to understand the context of the problem.
So getting back to the original question, why is the owl population dwindling in India? It’s a bit of a shocker, but the answer is…. Harry Potter. Yep, apparently the book is so popular that owls are in great demand to give as gifts to young children. Click here for the full story.