Many articles and books have been written about how helpful, asking the “Why?” question multiple times in finding the root cause is. My recent experiences have learned me that asking the “How?” question is just as useful in finding the underlying solution and/or reasoning for a certain outcome. Just think of a situation where people in a presentation promise you great results, with nice graphs and statements. Start asking the question “How?” The ones that can continue to answer this question until he/she reaches a really convincing point, has an well underpinned story, but many will fail to convince you during the questioning.
Just imagine you are sitting in a meeting where a team presents with a lot of enthusiasm that they are going to grow your turnover with >10%. Many people in the room like the story and presentation, giving their quiet support, until somebody ask the question: “How?”. The first time the team answers this question, the answer may come very easy and already be in the presentation, e.g. sell more products to certain target group. When on this answer again the question “How?” follows, they have to go already a bit deeper and start talking about certain marketing or sales force improvement actions. If then the question “How?” is posted again at a certain point you come to the real discussion if what is underpinning is sound to reach the result presented in the end.
This does not only work for analyzing business plans and presentations. I am pretty sure that guys at e.g. Toyota are not only asking themselves the question many times on “Why?”they have this brake problem, but that there are many now also concerned about “How?” to improve the public opinion in managing this problem. Again her the first time you answer this question is might seem very obvious, e.g. by improving the communication, but with every time you continue to answer this question, you come one level deeper to concrete solutions. How do we improve the communication, e.g. by: involving media companies that are able to handle such delicate messaging, having a clear communication message & action plan, …
Each of these results you can than further break down by asking “How?”until you reach a level where you think you are concrete enough.
This all might sound very simple, but that is in the end also the power of “How”
Please let me know if you have good examples yourself of this and if you liked this blog, either here and/or if you are interested to learn and discuss more about Strategy, Marketing & Innovation, please join our Forum at http://www.linkedin.com/groupRegistration?gid=1899487