You can only ask, “Why?” when you can make the time to explore the answer. And we all know that time is not easy to find.
Thus, it was with great interest that I recently read Hal Gregersen’s article, “When Was the Last Time You Asked, ‘Why Are We Doing It This Way?’” This is a question I find myself constantly asking my clients. “Why do you think that happened? Why did you take that step? Why did your key funder react that way?” As many of us have learned, you should ask, “Why?” five times, and eventually you’ll start to get to the root cause. Gregersen does a terrific job of explaining how various leaders have asked, “Why?” to a multitude of their stakeholders, and carefully listened to their response. Those leaders also offered “safe space” to those stakeholders who would openly and candidly share their perspectives and be heard. But it doesn’t stop there. Good leaders stay curious.
Shortly after reading this article, I came across Margarita Rosenfield’s post on “The Top 3 Reasons to Avoid Strategic Planning.” She does a superb job of reviewing some of the key factors that must be present in order for a strategic planning process to be successful, and she is “on point” that so much of it depends on “Time & Timing.” And, in my mind, that is in alignment with Gregersen’s article. Yes, strong, sound leaders need to ask, “Why?” But they should only be as curious as they have the time. Time to listen. Time to consider/analyze the answers that were given. Time to respond and take action. Time to make some hard decisions. And perhaps, time to challenge the status quo.
If you don’t have time, then don’t ask, “Why?”