“ But Why? ”
If you’ve ever had a hard decision to make, stumbling through a fuzzy cloud of choices & apprehension, then the Five Whys technique might help. It will guide you in finding the root cause behind a problem or your true motivation behind an action.
Simply ask why, repeat up to five times & give yourself time to think through the answers.
“I fancy a bag of crisps.”
1. Why do you want a bag of crisps?
“If I want food then I must be hungry.”
2. Why are you hungry?
“Well I did just have lunch & my stomach doesn’t really feel hungry. So maybe I’m just bored & want to procrastinate.”
3. Why do you want to procrastinate?
“Mainly because I don’t find this work engaging. It’s boring.”
4. Why do you find the work boring?
“It’s not something I’m interested in. I’m not invested in it & it doesn’t make me happy. Maybe I should leave my job.”
So this example became serious pretty fast & it didn’t even need five repetitions to get to the real crux of the problem. You could then take the last answer & use the Five Whys technique again with “Why haven’t you left your job yet”.
Five is the ideal amount of times you’ll need to question yourself about a problem. Any more than that may result in an existential crisis.
The Five Whys technique is also called ‘root cause analysis’ & was originally developed by Sakichi Toyada of Toyota. Or more likely one of his kids who just wanted to annoy him.
This article is part of a series 2014 - 2024. 10 years of monthly blogging starting August 2014.