My "Two Whys" Theory

"Why?" is the most important question in life. Little tiny children show us that this is so. Right after learning to say mummy and daddy, every child in every culture starts asking "why?" It's as natural as breathing and eating. Who do you suppose taught the child to ask "why?" Parents didn't, that's for sure. There is the constant "why?" "why? "why?", culminating with the ultimate parental insight "Because that's just the way it is!" What mom has leaned over the crib and cooed to the child "Can you say why? That's it-why". Frankly, I think it's God's sense of humour. God told them, "As soon as you can after you're born start asking 'why?"- drives 'em crazy."

There are two major roles for the question "why?" in your organization.

The first is to get to the truth. One reason some things don't change is because we don't start with the truth and we end up trying to change symptoms. It's only the truth that will set you free. Here's my theory: most of us stop two "whys?" short of the truth. Try it out. At your next meeting ask the group a question like "What's the one thing that's holding us back from reaching our potential?" The group will give you it's best shot with an analysis like, "We don't have a clear direction," or "We just don't communicate." Even the most honest group is likely to be two whys short of the real issue-the truth. Now ask your first "why?" in response to their comment and let them answer. Ask your second "why?" in response to that and let them answer again. Unless the group was very superficial in the first place you should now have identified the core issue that must be talked through.

The second role for "why?" is to determine what your organization is trying to accomplish. Again, most stop two whys short of finding real vision, a richly imagined future. This is why many mission statements are so boring. Try this out too. Take your current mission/vision statement and ask "why?" two more times and you'll end up at what I call the "Grand Why" of your corporate existence. For example, "Our mission is to be the number one preferred supplier in our chosen marketplace." No kidding. Come on, we can do much better than that. Two more why's and we've got it.

Elevate and revere the question "why?" Encourage everyone at every level to ask it. "Why" is the door to quality, to creative problem solving and to setting the organization's sights on what it is really meant to accomplish.

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"Copyright The Ian Percy Corporation."
Ian Percy is one of North America's most inspirational speakers.

Ian Percy is an international speaker and consultant and can be reached at www.ianpercy.com

 
 

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