“Why?” is undeniably a powerful question. But we often think about our why in grandiose, abstract terms. We tend to emphasize the philosophical rather than the practical. And yet, at its core, “Why?” is the most practical question that you can ask. And the one you always need to be prepared to answer. Don’t tell people what to do, or how to do it. Instead, get them excited about the why, the way it makes a difference, no matter how prosaic and simple the task at hand might be.
Yes, “why” is a problematic question. And in asking it, we run the risk of being seen as part of the problem. That’s in large part because we often fear the answer. We don’t have to, and there are choices in how we respond. We just need to be willing to make them.
“Why?” is a critically important question to ask. It’s a challenging one to ask at times, and sometimes it’s a more challenging one to answer. What is less expected is when the people asking the question are seen as part of the problem, and not part of the solution. That doesn’t mean that we stop asking why. But we may need to think carefully about the way that we go about doing it.
We get taught the principles of inquiry at a young age. Who, what, where, when, why and how are essential dimensions of the work we do and changes that we make. The question that we most lose site of, though, is “Why?”
“Why are we doing that?” It sounds like a simple question. It often has a very complex answer. Getting to the essence of why is important for project success, but how we usually think about projects often gets in the way. Reframing the questions to get the answers that we need.
Organizational culture is important. While we know that, most people (and to be clear, most organizations, executives and managers) struggle with just what culture is.