Project managers are taught to ask why and encouraged to ask it many times. Remove it from your vocabulary!
“It’s not an excuse, it’s a reason”
Why is a confrontation. Why asks for motives. Motives justify. We are saints and all others are psychopaths (Actor-observer asymmetry). We are getting a lot of biased information with why. How, what, when, where and who are curiosity — friendly questions about facts.
A project is how, what, when, where, and who. We want processes and facts. The why is a conclusion based on facts: Costs, Benefits, ROI…. Removing why and rewording your questions will get you the facts more quickly.
|We Need A Faster Server|
|Why do you think we need a faster server? The system is too slow.
Why is it too slow? It takes forever to prepare management reports.
|vs||What problem does the faster server fix? The management reports take too long to prepare with this server.|
|Why does it take forever? I need lots of data from different places.||vs||How long does it take? Two days to gather all the data for the management reports.|
|Why do you need lots of data? I need it to assemble the management reports.
Why do you need to assemble the reports? I don’t have all information I need in one place.
|vs||What do you do with the data? I need to pull it all together in one place to run the management reports.|
Ask friendly questions and you may only need three questions to ask five why’s!