image by Sebastiaan ter Burg via Flickr Creative Commons license

Achieve “Impossible” Results Predictably


ASK WHY LIKE A KID. Spend five minutes using the “Ask Why Five Times” approach. For example, if you choose a theme like “developing a new product for our target market” this exercise might go like this:


  • Why do we need to develop a new product for this market?
    • To remain competitive with other products on the market.
  • Why do we need to remain competitive?
    • So we can achieve next year’s revenue targets.
  • Why do we need to achieve next year’s revenue targets?
    • So we can stay in business.
  • Why do we need to stay in business?
    • So we can continue to provide our products to our customers.
  • Why do we need to continue to provide our products?
    • Because our products dramatically improve the quality of life for our customers.

What started off as a relatively uninspiring need to get a product to market and make some money has been transformed into a purpose beyond profit. When teams apply this exercise to their project theme they often end up with “To improve life on Earth!” or something equally inspiring. If you can’t get to something meaningful in five rounds of this exercise then maybe you’re working on the wrong project.