Advertising
Advertising

Razor-Sharp Thinking: the What-Why Method

Razor-Sharp Thinking: the What-Why Method

Charles Mingus once said, “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity.” As a society, we typically make the complicated commonplace. This is particularly true in regards to problem-solving as we add to the puzzle of complexity daily. My proposal is to introduce a new method combining elements from two simple (yet powerful) techniques to create an awesomely simple, yet effective problem-solving and explanation method.

First, Terry Borton’s Development Framework (What – So What – Now What) as the logical explanation tool. Second, the 5-Why technique used in root-cause analysis (RCA) as the simple problem-solving tool. Using Occam’s razor as my underlying principle, I propose a new method called the What–Why Method.

Crazy Simple!

    Using the military as an example, we find that numerous problem-solving methods exist within the U.S. military. In the U.S. Army alone, we have a smorgasbord of options to select from. From the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) to the Army Design Methodology (ADM) to Lean Six Sigma (LSS), we are not short on options. However, if we follow the philosophy of Occam’s razor, we will find that we can slice through the clutter and identify one simple method.

    Suppose you have two possible explanations for a problem, Occam’s razor demonstrates that the simplest option is typically the best option.[1] Occam’s razor has two parts which serve as the underlying principle of my What-Why Method.

    Advertising

    1. The Principle of Plurality. Plurality should not be assumed as a fact without necessity.
    2. The Principle of Parsimony. The scientific principle that things are typically connected or behave in the simplest way.

    What – So What – Now What

      Developed in 1970 by Terry Borton, Borton’s Development Framework provides us a straightforward and easy to understand approach to anything.[2] This simple framework involves only three questions, which can easily explain any concept. The questions follow the concept of Reflective Practice, which is the ability to reflect on your actions to engage in the process of learning.[3] Reflective Practice holds three components: Experiences (what happened to you?), Reflective Process (what enables you to learn from the experience?), and Action (what new perspective do you now possess as a result of your reflection?). Borton’s Development Framework possesses the following three questions:

      1. What? The experience.
      2. So What? Analysis of reflection or process of reflection.
      3. Now What? Synthesis and new perspectives from reflection. This is where you determine what to do next and what your next action will be.

      5-Why Technique

        Metaphorically speaking, if we want to kill a weed, we must first find the root. A root-cause is a factor causing nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated. The root-cause is essentially “the evil at the bottom” that sets things in motion causing the problem.[4] Let’s quickly look at the structure of a problem and break down the definition of root-cause via Asq.org.

        Advertising

          Root-Cause Defined

          • A factor that caused a nonconformance and should be permanently eliminated.
          • A factor that influences a result or outcome.
          • Must be completely eliminated or removed.

          Let’s now turn our attention to root-cause analysis (RCA). RCA is a collective term describing a wide range of approaches and techniques utilized to discover root-causes of problems. The 5-Why technique is one in which we were all experts at when we were children. Essentially, the 5-Why technique is an iterative interrogative technique used to determine the root-cause of a problem by repeatedly asking the question “Why?” The technique was formally developed by Taiichi Ohno and was highly utilized at Toyota. Furthermore, the “5” in the name comes from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve a problem.

          Simple Approach for Thinking

            By using my What-Why Method, we also find that we are able to move through Blooms Classification of Thought Process (otherwise known as Blooms Taxonomy), where we can quickly understand and describe a problem or topic. Additionally, my method takes us through the Hierarchy of Learning along with Blooms Taxonomy.

            When we bring it all together, we find that we now have a way to quickly solve a problem and quickly present or brief information. It also offers us a way to logically and easily categorize and present information, especially if we are posed with a difficult and impromptu question.

            Advertising

            Easily Explain Anything

              Let’s see how my method works using an example from the foster care system (visit my website for more information on the foster care system). By moving through the questions in the image above (What-Why Method), let’s see what we uncover.

              What?

                So What?

                  Now What?

                  Advertising

                    Lastly, John Driscoll matched Borton’s three questions to the stages of the experiential learning cycle and added trigger questions.[5] By linking trigger questions to Borton’s framework, we are able to produce a clear description of the event, an analysis of the event (critical thinking), and synthesis of the event (creative thinking). Combining the What – So What – Now What framework with the 5-Why technique essentially creates the simplest form of problem-solving in existence. As Wilfred A. Peterson said,

                    See it big and keep it simple.

                    Using the What-Why Method allows us to just that… See it big, yet keep it very simple!

                    Reference

                    [1] Harold Lambert: How Occam’s Razor Works
                    [2] Physio-Pedia: Borton’s Development Framework
                    [3] Skills You Need: Reflective Practice
                    [4] ASQ: What is Root Cause Analysis
                    [5] Driscoll: Critical Reflection

                    More by this author

                    Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                    Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

                    10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus, and Creativity How to Upgrade Your Critical Thinking Skills and Make Smart Choices The Ultimate Exercises to Improve Posture (Simple and Effective) How Cognitive Learning Benefits Your Brain and Grows Knowledge 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!)

                    Trending in Smartcut

                    1 50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry 2 How to Break Bad Habits (The Only Effective Way) 3 15 Daily Rituals of Highly Successful People 4 10 Best Mechanical Keyboards to Type Faster 5 How Procrastination Makes Time Management Ineffective

                    Read Next

                    Advertising
                    Advertising
                    Advertising

                    Last Updated on November 24, 2020

                    50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

                    50 LinkedIn Influencers To Follow, No Matter Your Industry

                    LinkedIn is an excellent platform to network with great people to help you in your career and businesses. However, with over 575 million people on the site, who should you follow? This list will steer you to the right people to follow, organized by categories of expertise.

                    Job Search Experts

                    You will likely have several jobs throughout the course of your career, and you will constantly need advice on new trends and strategies out there in the job market. Here are the LinkedIn experts who you should follow on these matters.

                    1. Liz Ryan is the CEO and founder of Human Workplace. Her articles on job searching are filled with creative and colorful cartoons.

                    2. Lou Adler is the author of The Essential Guide for Hiring and Getting Hired.

                    3. Dr. Marla Gottschalk will help you make an impact in a new job.

                    4. Hannah Morgan runs CareerSherpa.net, where she gives expert advice on job searching and how to be more visible online.

                    5. Alison Doyle is the CEO and Founder of CareerToolBelt.com.

                    Management Experts

                    They say that people leave managers, not jobs. These experts in LinkedIn will help you become your employees’ dream manager.

                    6. Jeff Weiner. How can we leave out the CEO of LinkedIn himself?

                    7. Nozomi Morgan is an executive coach. She can help you transition from a boss to a true leader.

                    8. Mickey Mikitani is the CEO of Rakuten. He constantly shares his expertise in managing a global player in e-commerce platforms.

                    9. Andreas von der Heydt was the head of Amazon’s Kindle Content and now the Director of Talent Acquisition. He has extensive experience in management, branding, and marketing.

                    Advertising

                    Productivity Experts

                    By maximizing your productivity, you can win in all aspects of life. The following LinkedIn experts will help you win big in your career.

                    10. Gretchen Rubin is a happiness coach and the bestselling author of the The Happiness Project.

                    11. Carson Tate is the founder of Working Simply. She advises us to include play in our schedules.

                    12. Greg Mckeown is an essentialist. Part of being an essentialist is saying no to many things so that we can focus on the things that matter.

                    13. Brian de Haaff, CEO of Aha! Labs Inc. provides strategies on how to be productive and happy at work at the same time.

                    Marketing Experts

                    14. Sujan Patel is VP of Marketing at When I Work, an employee scheduling software. He is an expert in content marketing and he even shares his ideas on content marketing in 2020.

                    15. Megan Berry is the Head of Product Development at Rebelmouse, a content marketing and AlwaysOn powerhouse.

                    16. Sean Gardner will help you navigate the social media landscape. This includes how to use different platforms to help accelerate your career. He is also the bestselling author of The Road to Social Media Success.

                    17. Christel Quek is an digital and marketing expert. She is the VP of South East Asia at Brandwatch. Their products help businesses utilize social media data to make better business decisions.

                    18. Jeff Bullas is a digital marketing expert. His blog has over 4 million readers annually.

                    19. Michael Stelzer is the CEO and Founder of social media powerhouse site, Social Media Examiner.

                    20. If you’re looking for inbound and content marketing expertise, follow Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of Hubspot.

                    Advertising

                    21. David Edelman is a McKinsey partner and is at the helm of the Digital Marketing Strategy Practice Department.

                    22. Dave Kerpen leads the social media software company Likeable Local. He is the author of Likeable Social Media: How to delight your customers.

                    23. Clara Shih is the CEO of Hearsay Social and the author of The Facebook Era.

                    24. Aaron Lee is Grand Master of Customer Delight at Post Planner. He is an excellent resource for everything social media.

                    25. David Sable is the CEO of Y&R, one of the largest advertising firms in the world.

                    26. Content marketing trumps traditional marketing these days, and who else better to lead you in this area than Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute.

                    Personal Branding Experts

                    Part of what we market in our personal career is our brand. When people hear your name, what kind of brand comes into their mind? What traits and qualities do they associate with you?

                    Here are some personal branding experts from LinkedIn to improve your own brand.

                    27. Dorie Clark is the author of Stand Out and Reinventing You. He can help you craft the professional image you’ve always wanted.

                    28. Dan Schawbel is the managing partner of Millennial Branding. If you’re a millennial, Dan is the guy to help you craft your personal brand.

                    Other Notable Experts to Follow

                    29. Lisa Gates is the expert to follow if you’re negotiating for higher salaries and promotions.

                    30. If you’re a Baby Boomer, Marc Miller will help you navigate the continually changing landscape of the workplace.

                    Advertising

                    31. To avoid getting your resumé moved to the “No” pile, read Paul Freiberger’s excellent advice.

                    32. James Caan provides insightful ideas on careers in general. He is also a serial entrepreneur.

                    33. Jeff Haden writes on various topics, such as leadership and management. He is the owner of Blackbird Media.

                    34. If you’re looking for expert business advice on getting new customers and keeping them, follow Jay Baer.

                    35. Suzanne Lucas, aka Evil HR Lady, is a great human resources specialist.

                    36. If you need help in using Twitter to boost your career, Claire Diaz-Ortiz can guide you in the right direction.

                    37. Ryan Holmes is the CEO of Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

                    38. Customers are the lifeblood of a business and Colin Shaw focuses on revolutionizing this customer experience.

                    39. Brian Solis often reflects on the future of business and how technology can disrupt our world.

                    40. Nancy Lublin provides advice on more lighthearted topics, which are perfect after a long day’s work. She is the CEO behind Dosomething.org, a portal designed for social change; and the founder & CEO of Loris.ai and Crisis Text Line.

                    41. Katya Andresen provides advice on how to manage your career. She was the CEO of Cricket Media and now responsible for the SVP Card Customer Experience at Capital One.

                    42. Gallup has created a system to test what your strengths are and how to use them at work. Jim Clifton is the CEO of Gallup.

                    Advertising

                    43. Adam Grant is a Wharton Professor and the author of Give and Take, which provides advice on why being helpful at work can accelerate your career.

                    44. Hunter Walk is a partner at Homebrew Venture Capitalist Company and has specialty in product development and management.

                    45. If you’re running a nonprofit organization, follow Beth Kanter for expert advice on this area.

                    46. Emotional Intelligence is necessary to succeed in your career, and Daniel Goleman is your expert for that.

                    47. Rita J. King connects science, technology and business.

                    48. Tori Worthington Rose is a Creative Director at Mary Beth West Communications, LLC. She has extensive experience in sales and digital media.

                    49. If you’re looking for some advice on how to use writing and personal content marketing to boost your career, follow Ann Handley.

                    50. Tim Brown is the CEO at IDEO and shares his insights on Leadership and Creativity.

                    These are just some of the key thought leaders and movers in various industries. They will provide you with constant inspiration, as well as the willpower to pursue the career that you’ve always wanted. Their stream of expert ideas in their respective fields will help you become well-equipped in your professional pursuits.

                    More Articles About Successful People

                    Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

                    Read Next