Why is why so powerful?
Because it enables you to get to the root of a problem, rather that applying superficial band-aid solutions that solve nothing.
Rather than accepting the first reason for a problem you respond with a question starting with why. If you respond with at least 5 ‘why’ questions there is a strong likelihood you will uncover the real cause of the problem. For example:
Why did we lose the client?
Because they were dissatisfied with our service
Why were they dissatisfied with our service?
Because we failed to respond to their complaint in a timely fashion
Why did we fail to respond in a timely fashion?
It took us time to figure out the reason for the problem that caused the complaint
Why did it take time?
It was a complex problem
Why didn’t we let them know we were looking into the complaint and would get back to them?
We thought we should always respond with a solution
In this example the client didn’t leave because they were dissatisfied with the service; that problem would have required a full analysis of the customer service process. Instead they left because someone failed to let them know that the problem was being looked into. The solution to the real problem requires a small addition to the complaints process to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Despite the power of why there are temptations to bypass it. For example:
- It slows down the problem solving process.
- The person being interrogated can become extremely defensive and uncooperative.
- It is difficult to do.
Overcome these temptations by making it a part of the company problem solving culture and practice practice practice using the Five Whys!