Why is a great question word! There is probably no answer that does not allow another why question. With Why comes up to the core of a matter and even beyond. The more you ask, the clearer the connections become. Each answer throws a further question to which a new clarifying answer can offer.
Children are grandmasters of why. They are inquisitive and tireless in asking questions. If they get unsatisfactory answers, they simply continue and ask why. So they learn and expand their knowledge until they are satisfied with the answer. Children intuitively do what we adults with apparent knowledge dismiss and push aside: they get to the bottom of things.
However, when it comes to brainstorming, this is central to finding feasible, effective solutions. In everyday professional life, this “why” is increasingly receding into the background, prefabricated assumptions or experiences take the place of curiosity and the will to know. (see also my blog post “Why do we forget to ask why?”).
The 5-Why method helps us to get to the bottom of problems, to check assumptions, to look at ideas more deeply. The method is simple and surprisingly effective: Ask a question “Why?” 5 times in a row and answer this question. Alone or in a team, no matter, the main thing is that you record all questions and their answers. The last answer should either give you insight into hidden obstacles or new impulses for finding ideas.
An impressive example of this is the park administration in Washington D.C., which discovered that the stones of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington began to slowly rot through excessive washing of the stones contaminated by bird droppings. The 5-Why method finally found a simple, cost-saving solution to preserve this fantastic monument.
See for yourself!
A tip! You don’t have to limit yourself to 5 questions, ask them more often and see what happens. An entertaining example can be found here: https://youtu.be/P6iLULz_wOg
Try it for yourself!