This is a question that can get some really interesting answers when you ask it in certain environments.
The question why is something that can help you figure things out and also help make others understand how something is being done. I ask the question why when I am talking to clients as I would like to understand their processes.
Here are some of the answers you get when you ask the question why?
It’s just done that way.
We have done it like this forever and it just works.
I’m not sure why we do it this way but if you can think of another way please let us know.
Honestly I don’t know.
Yes, these are some of the answers to the question of why are you doing “X” a certain way. I ask this question normally when I am trying to document a process and want to understand why it’s being done a certain way. I have found that there are cases that a process must be done in a certain order due to regulations. Most of the reasons that I get for why it is being done a certain way is because that’s how we have done it and we can’t see any other way of doing it.
At some meetings I have been given very interesting looks when I simply ask “Why?”. I am not trying to be mean, I am trying to get a clean understanding about the steps in a progress. I have even got this same look when I ask about a policy to ensure that it is clean and understandable.
When I receive the answer of “just because” that normally means that there isn’t a clean reason why it is being done in a certain way. If this happens I try to sit down with the individuals performing the task to see what steps are involved and maybe see if there is an easier way of getting the task done. There have been a number of times that I have been able to ask for clarification and we have been able to make the task easier after knowing all the steps that are involved. When you are trying to figure out a process the best person to talk to is the person that is performing the task rather than management. Management has one idea of the process and the person doing the task may have a different idea.
Making some recommendations after getting all the answers to the question “why” can also be interesting. In a lot of cases, the changes that are recommended are based on other conversations and observations. If a process isn’t documented at all it can be a challenge to actually find out all the steps because so many steps seem to be automatic for the person doing the task. What works very well when you are tyring to capture all the steps is either have the person try and teach you the steps or try and video tape the person doing the task so that you can catch even the smallest steps that are required to complete the task. The smallest steps are normally the ones that are missed because of them being so small or simple.
Why, can lead to a lot of puzzles being solved and even some simple changes. Next time you are having a problem and can’t figure out the solution sit back and ask yourself “why” am I doing this task a certain way. You may find out that by making a few little changes to the process where possible you are going to make it easier on yourself.