Sluething with ‘Why? Why?……and Why?’
May 16, 2011 15 Comments
Here’s an interesting story (slightly edited) of figuring out a simple solution to a bothersome problem, from the site: http://www.idea champions.com/weblogs/archives/2011/05/some_years_ago.shtml:
“…Some years ago, there was a big problem at one of America’s most treasured monuments — the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC.
Simply put, birds — in huge numbers — were pooping all over it, which made visiting the place a very unpleasant experience.
Attempts to remedy the situation caused even bigger problems, since the harsh cleaning detergents being used were damaging the memorial. And the National Parks workers, though not necessarily attracted to the bird poop, were attracted to getting paid — so they spent a lot of their time (and taxpayer money) cleaning the Memorial.
Prima-facie, possible fixes were:
1. Hire more workers to clean the Memorial
2. Ask existing workers to work overtime
3. Experiment with different kinds of cleaning materials
4. Put bird poison all around the memorial
5. Hire hunters to shoot the birds
6. Encase the entire Jefferson Memorial in Plexiglas
7. Move the Memorial to another part of Washington
8. Close the site to the general public
Technically speaking, each of the above “solutions” was a possible approach — but at great cost, inconvenience, and with questionable results.
Fortunately, some of the National Parks managers assigned to the case began asking WHY — as in “Why was the Jefferson Memorial so much more of a target for birds than any of the other memorials?”
A little bit of investigation revealed the following:
The birds were attracted to the Jefferson Memorial because of the abundance of spiders — a gourmet treat for birds.
The spiders were attracted to the Memorial because of the abundance of midges (insects) that were nesting there.
And the midges were attracted to the Memorial because of the light.
Midges, it turns out, like to procreate in places where the light is just so — and because the lights were turned on, at the Jefferson Memorial, one hour before dark, it created the kind of mood lighting that midges went crazy for.
So there you have it: The midges were attracted to the light. The spiders were attracted to the midges. The birds were attracted to the spiders.
How did they resolve the situation? Very simply:
After reviewing the curious chain of events that led up to the problem, the decision was made to wait until dark before turning the lights on at the Jefferson Memorial.
That one-hour delay was enough to ruin the mood lighting for the midges, who then decided to have midge sex somewhere else.
No midges, no spiders. No spiders, no birds. No birds, no poop. No poop, no need to clean the Jefferson Memorial so often. Case closed.
Solved simply by asking WHY…. and then WHY again… and then WHY again!!…“
Do we have similar local examples from public or personal experiences?