Ask “Why?” 5 Times After Asking “So What?” 5 Times

Note: This is about ROI

Why “So What” Before “Why?”

Why “so what?”

To get at the returns, the estimated ROI before “the fix investments” – and then for learning from the actual-to-plan ROI afterwards.

For comparison purposes. Same as it ever was.

And note, I prefer life cycle views versus first views; as in first costs and life cycle costs. Look beyond first costs … and returns.

Look over some reasonable time horizon for potential comparisons for other opportunities for other investments for other returns.

Life cycle returns, like I said. And for comparisons-sake, like I said.

For which ROI, or ROE, which was created by DuPont – see the Wikipedia take on that real ROE metric – here.

ROI estimates before “doing something” can be compared to after the fact, actuals-to-plans data, but that assumes you can measure all of the variables affected by some change, some investment. And then understand what you got for your time and trouble, to make some investment, to address some problem.

Here next is the gang at Lessons in Making Lemonade play with So What After Why.

But Why? No. So What?


Back to Asking So What First, Why Second

OK, I am playing with this a bit. But seriously…

Why start your Problem Solving effort by asking Why? 5 times – which is an element of certain Problem Solving methodologies – of which there are more than can be counted IMO – I have more than one myself – instead of starting with another question?

The better question IMO is “so what?”

Because the real target for the first question in any PS effort – IMO – is to first determine whether or not you should really be investing your time, and others’ time, on some specific, or general, target.

Before you waste your time and potentially others addressing some low-payback, low hanging fruit, with little potential to return significant ROI or ROE, ask, So What?

Five times. Or more. Or less. Ask it often enough to hear the answers to so what, until you understand more about the R in ROI, or the R  in ROE. And not that ROE where it stands for Return on Expectations.

Kill 10 minutes on this opposing view on that newer, softer, can’t really be measured with any precision, after the fact let alone estimated on the front end, ROE Return on Expectations. Long live ROI. For comparisons for targeting, or not.

But I digress.

Back Again to Asking So What First, Why Second

Asking Why 5 times is part of some approaches to Problem Solving, which gets after a Root Cause, or more likely, Root Causes.

Then Interventions can attack the root causes, solve the problem, and everyone lives happily ever after. Until the next Problem appears. So as that’s going to be happening all of the time, one should be prepared to do this effectively and efficiently. Think about it. You yourself probably “pick your nose off the grindstone” of the last effort to problem solve, or do some routine task-set with it’s own set of problems every time you go to do it, and then another thing appears to need to be done, addressed. So you, me, everyone has problems to address, and when done, more problems to address. Or Opportunities, which in my view is on the flip side coin that reads: Problems.

But which ones, which Problems do you just live with? If you can’t address them all. And why?

No. So What?


Ah. Because Problem Solving efforts are Investments.

And someone should ask whether or not spending any time and any money on it, has enough of a payback to warrant that effort and those funds. Is there Return on the Investments that are not negative, that are positive?

OK. Well then, so far so good.

But Wait! Are There Bigger Returns Elsewhere? Bigger Fish to Fry?

More bang for the buck elsewhere?

Shouldn’t we be thinking about that too? Comparing Investment Opportunities – which as we stated earlier – has the flip side of Problem. They always go together, that couple, Problems and Opportunities.

But I digress.

It is important only if your resources are limited.

And whose aren’t?

So you should target for more bang for the buck.

Fry bigger fish.

So what and then why.

For the so what, it’s simply not good stewardship, and for the why, because people will probably be much more engaged, when working on something of significant ROI and/or ROE, rather than low hanging fruit.

So what?

It’s win-win.

Look for the R.

EPPI Fishbone v2012 - 1- The Process

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2 comments on “Ask “Why?” 5 Times After Asking “So What?” 5 Times

  1. Pingback: Seriously, What’s the Likelihood? In Problem Solving and Performance Improvement and Learning | EPPIC - Pursuing Performance

  2. Pingback: TLW 116: If you build it…will they come?

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