Five whys LO21805

Tony Padgett (
Wed, 02 Jun 1999 14:02:21 +0900

Replying to LO21782 --

Gordon Housworth wrote:

> Has anyone wondered why five times, and not, say, three?

If a question is really worded and well thought out, sometimes asking only
once will bring better results that simply asking "why" five times. Can
you imagine if we all sat around and just simply asked "why" to every
proposal? That doesn't really meaningfully challenge in a postive sense
the issue/concept/proposal raised, and it really doesn't involve the
questioner and make the questioner responsible for asking meaningful

I'll give you a very simply but illustrative example. My friend runs a
fairly successful discount travel agency in Tokyo. He's always telling me
about what type of advertising he's going to run; how he's going to beat
the competition; how he's projecting sales: etc., etc. So, I thought for
a moment, and then asked, "So, my friend, what is it about your business
that has people buying from you as opposed to the competition?" He
seriously couldn't come up with a good answer--and it got him thinking
about the strategies he was telling me about just a few moments before.

Job description of a good consultant: "Someone who knows how to ask good


Tony Padgett <>

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