represents a reason why something occurs. “Because!!” is a “because” that is beyond your reasonable control. Finding the “Because!!” frees you to start solution building.
“How do we improve our order-to-delivery cycle time?” Let’s say it takes 20 days from customer order to delivery and you would have a significant competitive edge if you reduced this to 15 days. So you start asking why it takes 20 days ….
The Why Game?
You’ve experienced this with your children or as a child. Someone says something and you ask “Why?” They give a reason. You ask “Why?” They give a reason for the reason, you ask “Why?” They give another reason, You ask “Why?” etc. etc. This goes on for a while until the answer back is “Because!!”, which ends the game.
The Why Game in Business.
When something needs an explanation in your business, ask why it is the way it is. Keep asking why? If you get to “I don’t know”, then find out and keep going. “I don’t know” needs to be found out. When the reason changes from things you can control to things you believe you can’t control, it’s time to switch to another tactic. Now understand if you really can’t practically control those things. If you can, keep playing, but when you reasonably can’t, then stop asking why and write down the last reason. This becomes the “Because!!”.
becomes a constraint to your universe of possible solutions. The critical thinking here is that once recognized as a constraint, innovative solutions, workarounds and circumventions can be created.
The Result of The Why Game in our example might lead you to “Because!!
, the best supplier can’t delivery their piece in less then 10 days”. This now becomes a constraint. Having recognized this, you can now look at working around it. Can you pre-order based on trends and the return policy if you order too much, can you drop ship direct to the customer, etc.
When do you accept “Because!!”
as the “final answer”? The speed at which you can create solutions is related to the speed at which you can identify the constraints. However the quality and innovativeness of the solutions is related to the depth you go before you accept those as constraints. This is where the elements of Leadership and Judgment come in. In the example, if your supplier is already the fastest in the industry, and their belief is that it’s the best they can offer at this time, do you accept this as the “Because!!”, or do you continue with “Why?”, If you sell a software product, do you get Microsoft to fix every bug in Windows, or do you accept that bugs will exist and spend your energy working around them instead of visiting Redmond with large posters of insecta. Even the emotional “Because!!” … If the big boss decides on the design for an advertising campaign and it comes down to “Because the CEO likes the color Blue!!”, is it productive to challenge that or accept it as a constraint.
When to stop asking why
is key to successful Headscratching. We’ll get back to techniques to help here at another time. Inevitably however, in ALL cases, “Because!!” occurs, and when accepted as a constraint, solutions can be created.The Takeaway:
When Headscratching, dig deep for the “Because!!”. Leadership and Judgment will guide the depth of the “Why Game”. Ultimately when “Because!!” is reached, it simply becomes a constraint to the possible solutions that you can now start creating.