Know your Why, Think different

How to know the root core of a difficult problem?

The road to self-discovery is as long as a lifetime. We grow, we learn, we change every day. Sometimes, a couple of years have passed and the old concepts for us have no longer been suitable. It is usual when each of us occasionally feels that we do not understand ourselves, or have acted as if we were a different person. Therefore, sometimes revisiting the values ​​of life is a must.

During that revisit, there are questions that suddenly pop up. Those questions may have been chasing you for a while but you still don’t have the answer.

Often these are difficult questions for which answers will not easily surface. Such questions may be related to philosophical reflection, religious beliefs, or elusive emotions. In regards to such questions, there are two types: one that you don’t have the answer, and the other is that your answer is still on the surface without touching the root core of the problem. Whichsoever, if the core of the problem has not been touched, there will be no adequate measures to resolve it at all. So how do you know the root core of a difficult problem?

Answering the 5 Why.

The 5 Why technique has been developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, since the 1930s. This technique has become famous since the 1970s and is used extensively within Toyota to solve problems. Over the years proving its effectiveness, this technique now has been known all over the world.

Actually, this is a very simple and practical technique: answering 5 times the “Why” question. Let’s say you have a question, now answer it, then ask why for the answer you just got, and repeat 3 more times.

A practical example is as follows:

Question 1: “Why does that customer not pay for the design that we just sent?”

Answer 1: “Because we sent it too late compared to the deadline.”

Question 2: “Why did we send so late compared to the deadline?”

Answer 2: “Because this design took more time to prepare than we thought.”

Question 3: “Why did the design take more time than we thought?”

Answer 3: “Because we lacked people to allocate to this project.”

Question 4: “Why did we lack people to allocate to this project?”

Answer 4: “Because there was one person who had to leave this project to run for an old project and one had to work on another new project, hence there are only two people left to do this one.”

Question 5: “Is the design department short of people? How many people do we actually need?”

Answer 5: “We have to recruit at least one more person.”

Looking at the above example, suppose that the boss has “question 1” for you, but only “answer 1” is given, then the root core of people’s shortage will never be properly reviewed, and this late handover compared to the deadline will repeat.

This method can be applied to various issues, especially qualitative issues. An implicit convention for answering questions is to try to make the answers as clear as possible. There should be characters, events, space and time in the answers, to make the next question more accessible and prevent the problem from becoming more obscure.

I wish you success with this method.

Have a good day.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.