The Five Whys Technique (also known as “Popping the Why Stack”) has long been suggested as a way to get to the ultimate reason for a project. But when you ask why repeatedly, you run the risk of looking quite pedantic and annoying stakeholders. With that in mind, I thought I’d provide a list of alternative questions that get to the same information but may not be quite as annoying.
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- What need are you trying to satisfy?
- What are you hoping to accomplish with this?
- Is there any overriding goal for these changes?
- What would happen if you didn’t do this project?
- What opportunity are you trying to exploit?
- How will the world look different once this project is successfully finished?
- So what?
- And that’s an issue because…?
- What on earth were you thinking?
I’d be interested in any suggestions you have found that work (or don’t for that matter).
I was hunting around on Chris Matts’ blog for another purpose and found some additional alternatives to the five whys.