The Five “What’s” and “How’s”

I recently wrote a post about moving beyond the default questions–about asking good next questions for projects.

Specifically, I noticed two sets of questions that good leaders ask:

  • What’s the backup plan?
  • How should this feel for our customers?

Here’s another set of questions I’ve noticed:  The Five What’s and How’s.

I think most people have heard of the “Five Why’s”–which is an iterative technique to understand the root cause of a problem.  And it works surprisingly well.

In my work, I often understand the root cause of the problem, and the next step is to figure out what needs to happen to change it.  Asking iterative questions works in this situation too.

As an example, one regional team I work with knew that they needed buy-in from operational leaders to make an important change.

  • What do we need to make this initiative successful?  We need leaders to buy-in to this change.
  • How do we get buy-in?  Have the leaders be present with their teams, dedicate time, celebrate actions we want, and make commitments to their peers.
  • What should happen?  The leaders need to know what to do and feel like it’s important.
  • How might we do this?  Hold a fun, engaging event that everyone does together.
  • What should we do to support this?
    • Create structure: a timeline and plan to follow
    • Provide specific actions–a packet with a shirt to wear, certificates to present, schedules and scripts to follow, questions to ask, an occasion to celebrate, and an ask to share photos and stories
    • Make space for next steps: scheduled prep calls and a time to debrief together afterward

Handling the specifics makes change much easier–something to remember for the future.



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