Going Beyond Asking Why: A New Look at 5 Why’s

Why ask Why?

We’ve used the 5 Why’s as a powerful, simple vehicle for fostering conversations about why we do things. Often, particularly with well-established programs and services, we lose the connection between the rationale behind why something was done and what value it brings.

A technique called the 5 Why’s could help us get closer to this core reason and explanation. We wrote an explainer of this technique.

While useful, the technique can sometimes feel repetitive and draw people away when it seems like we’re all just emulating a 5-year-old asking “why” all the time.

John Nash has written a great Twitter thread that provides some creative, valuable alternatives to using ‘why’ questions to follow-up our initial queries. These can be helpful in making the most of the method in your next design exploration.

His prompts include:

  • What feels critical about that?
  • Why is that, do you think?
  • Tell me more about why that’s important to you.
  • I see. How so?
  • What makes that important?
  • Can you give me your perspective on why that is crucial?
  • Why do you feel that way?
  • Can you share more about why that is a priority?
  • What makes that critical?
  • Why do you think that is a key consideration?
  • Can you describe why that is essential?
  • Can you elaborate on why that matters to you?
  • Why does that feel important?
  • Can you expand on why that’s a must-have?
  • What makes that a high-priority item for you?
  • Why is that a concern for you?

Thanks, John, for such an outstanding contribution to the field and extending the method. Try these for your next journey into the why of designing your services and strategy.

If you’re looking to find or clarify your why’s and build strategy and great services around them, let’s chat. We can help you.

Image credit:  Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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