• Explaining the rationale behind a request or recommendation
  • Equipping others with the purpose of an assignment and the significance of information
  • Giving the details, sharing the context and removing the mystery behind our words and actions

Around twelve years ago, I went to Home Depot and bought a plastic trash can. You know the type:

I immediately went home, chucked up a a half-inch bit, and drilled around twenty holes in the side. It’s been perfect ever since.
Oh, the holes?  Well, when I mow the lawn I use the bagging attachment. When the bag gets full, you gotta dump it, right? It never really bothered me too much to dump the clippings directly into the city trash bin that gets rolled to the curb each week, but as it turns out, it bothers some members of my household1 a great deal.  As I recall it has something to do with the smell that is produced when damp grass clippings sit covered in the bin all week in the Oklahoma summer heat. Alas, chunking the bagging attachment into the city bin each time I mow is expensive and wasteful, so I need to empty the clippings into a trash bag that I can then tie off and bin.
That can be kind of an unwieldy process – you have one of those giant lawn trash bags in one hand, right, and then you have the heavy and full mower bag in the other, and you’re sorta trying to hold the trash bag open downwind so that it doesn’t collapse on you, and then you’re trying to somehow simultaneously invert the mower bag and not drop the trash bag, and nine times out of ten you end up dumping more on the ground than you get in the trash bag. So it makes sense to put the trash bag in a trash can so that the can holds the bag open and the dumping is easier2 .
So for this whole bag-in-can thing to work well, you have to find trash bags with an opening that just barely fits around the circumference of the can. If the bags are too big, they just sink down in the bottom of the can the minute the grass hits them, thereby defeating the entire purpose. So I finally found the perfect brand and size of trash bag to stretch over the edges of my can, thereby holding it in place securely so dumping the mower bag is trouble free. Ambrosia!
Except not, as it turns out. See, when you find that perfect stays-attached-to-the-can size of trash bag, it sets up a situation where as the bag is being filled with grass, the air trapped in between the bag and the sides of the can can’t escape.  And that then means that you’re trying to dump the grass onto this sort of trash bag pillow affair, and the grass sort of whooshes up at you and spills over the side, which is messy and infuriating.
Enter the holes. I figured that if I drilled a series of smallish holes at random places all along the sides of the can, the air between the bag and can would have somewhere to escape as I filled the can with grass clippings… and I was exactly right!  It’s a completely trouble free system, minimizing frustration and maximizing marital harmony. Job done.
But nearly every single person who sees my can is all “what’s the deal with those holes?”  And then I passionately explain it, and they secretly wish they hadn’t brought it up.  My dad, though,  said “huh, that’s actually pretty clever,” which I consider the highest of praise.
Now, drilling holes into a perfectly good trash can isn’t the most common or rational thing for a person to do.  Turns out it suits my needs perfectly, but I do occasionally have to explain myself to keep from looking like a doofus3 .  And so it is - a trouble-free Lawn Clipping Disposal System™ that I’ve relied on for years now. I barely even think about it these days.
And that’s where the power lies in the Share the Reason GuideMark. The next time you find yourself thinking “that’s the way we’ve always done it,” stop and ask yourself why. Taking the time to re-evaluate the why behind a process, a policy, or a practice can have fantastic results. Sometimes, you might find out that there’s no need to do it that way after all, and you can implement a better solution.  Other times, you might discover that your odd solution still works great, and you get an opportunity to pass yourself off as someone with a commanding knowledge of fluid dynamics rather than a bumpkin with a DeWalt and too much time on his hands. Win-win!
1There are two of us.
2I actually wrote this whole thing just so I could use the phrase “the dumping is easier” on our corporate website.  I’m twelve.
3I know, I know.  Nice try.

Key Words and Phrases
Offer a rationale; Explain; Give details; Clarify; Describe; Put in plain words; Make clear; Enlighten.

Opposite Terms
Mystery; In the dark; Secrecy; Ambiguity.

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