Frameworks to ask Questions
The 5 Whys strategy is a simple, effective tool for uncovering the root of a problem. You can use it in troubleshooting, problem-solving and quality improvement initiatives.
Start with a problem and ask "why" it is occurring. Make sure that your answer is grounded in fact, then ask "why" again. Continue the process until you reach the problem's root cause, and you can identify a counter-measure that prevents it from recurring.
Problem statement - Our conversions on mobile are low for India
People are getting off from our payments page
They are getting the error message while making the payments
Their Payment session is getting timed out
The speed of the internet is slow in India and we are not able to customize our payment experience to make it faster
We copied the payment experience of other markets to India
The 5 Whys uses "counter-measures," rather than solutions. A counter-measure is an action or set of actions that seek to prevent the problem from arising again, while a solution may just seek to deal with the symptom. As such, counter-measures are more robust, and will more likely prevent the problem from recurring.
The "5" in 5 Whys is really just a "rule of thumb
As you work through your chain of questioning, you'll often find that someone has failed to take a necessary action. The great thing about 5 Whys is that it prompts you to go further than just assigning blame and to ask why that happened.
It’s a tool developed by the CIA to define problems and plan solutions. The questions in are known as ‘context-free’ questions and are designed to encourage agents to look at a challenge from many different angles. It is like holding your challenge in your hand. You can turn it, look at it from underneath, see it from one view, hold it up to another position, imagine solutions, and really be in control of it.
Here is how you use it:
- Write your challenge
- Ask questions. Use the checklist to dissect the challenge into a variety of areas
- Record your answers.
- Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
- What benefits will you receive by solving the problem?
- What is the unknown?
- What is it you don’t yet understand?
- What is the information you have?
- What isn’t the problem?
- Is the information sufficient? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory?
- Should you draw a diagram of the problem? A figure?
- Where are the boundaries of the problem?
- Can you separate the various parts of the problem? Can you write them down? What are the relationships of the parts of the problem? What are the constants of the problem?
- Have you seen this problem before?
- Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form? Do you know a related problem?
- Try to think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown
- Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. Can you use it? Can you use its method?
- Can you restate your problem? How many different ways can you restate it? More general? More specific? Can the rules be changed?
- What are the best, worst and most probable cases you can imagine?
- Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem?
- What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it?
- How much of the unknown can you determine?
- Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
- Have you used all the information?
- Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
- Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step?
- What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? How many different techniques?
- Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see?
- How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
- What have others done?
- Can you intuit the solution? Can you check the result?
- What should be done? How should it be done?
- Where should it be done?
- When should it be done?
- Who should do it?
- What do you need to do at this time?
- Who will be responsible for what?
- Can you use this problem to solve some other problem?
- What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
- What milestones can best mark your progress?
- How will you know when you are successful?
The Socratic method is named after Greek philosopher Socrates who taught students by asking question after question. Socrates sought to expose contradictions in the students’ thoughts and ideas to then guide them to solid, tenable conclusions
This technique involves finding holes in their own theories and then patching them up
Generally, the Socratic professor invites a student to attempt a cogent summary of a case assigned for that day's class. Regardless of the accuracy and thoroughness of the student's initial response, he or she is then grilled on details overlooked or issues unresolved. A professor will often manipulate the facts of the actual case at hand into a hypothetical case that may or may not have demanded a different decision by the court
At its best, this approach forces a reasonably well-prepared student to go beyond the immediately apparent issues in a given case to consider its broader implications. The dialogue between the effective Socratic instructor and his victim-of-the-moment will also force non-participating students to question their underlying assumptions of the case under discussion
This post is part of the Art of Asking Questioning. Other segments of this series -