Are you asking enough questions?

Erin Strode, August 17, 2017

Client services teams must discover what isn’t being said to truly understand the challenges clients are looking to solve or overcome. At McDill, we’re constantly asking questions to dig deeper into the problem at hand.

Here’s one way to get at the root of a problem via questions. It’s a technique originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda to improve manufacturing within Toyota Motor Corporation. The technique suggests that asking “Why?” five times will get you to the root of the proposed problem. Here’s an example:

Problem: I always work late.

  1. Why? – I can’t get my work done on time.
  2. Why can’t you get work done on time? – I have a late start to my day.
  3. Why is your day starting late? – I’m always late to work.
  4. Why are you late? – I can never find my keys in the morning.
  5. Why can’t you find your keys? – I have no place to put my keys whenever I get in the door.

A very simple example, but the solution is to get a key hook to save time in the morning. If we would’ve stopped at the first “why,” we would’ve gone down a tangent looking for a solution in the wrong places (i.e. workplace conditions).

It’s one thing to listen to a client’s needs, but another to ask key questions, and probe further, to truly understand what they are looking for.