Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Don’t Stop at the Easy Answer – the Importance of Asking “Why?”

Don’t Stop at the Easy Answer – the Importance of Asking “Why?”

dont-stop-at-the-easy-answer-the-importance-of-asking-why- image0Someone gave me a tip a while back and I wanted to share it with you … When asking questions about work (especially when interviewing a person for a job), do not hesitate to “drill down.”  Originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda, and later used by Toyota Motors, it is the concept of asking “Why?” five times.  When we do this, often the nature of the problem as well as the solution become clear.

This means not stopping at the easy answer, which may be incomplete and not really get you what you need to know.  At first, this might be a bit uncomfortable for you, but it is not being rude; it is being thorough and striving to acquire the truth, and indeed, helping the other person to see the facts of the situation as well.

As an example, this is a near verbatim word-by-word account of a recent hallway conversation between a faulty member and myself:

“The Transaction Editing System (TES) caused us to not get paid on a claim,” the faculty member said. (TES is a claims scrubber.)

1. “Why?” I asked.  “The claim was delayed being sent to the payer,” said the faculty member.

2. “Why?” I asked.  “It came out of TES after the deadline,” said the faculty member.

3. “Why?” I asked.   “There was not enough time for it to process through,” said the faculty member.

4. “Why?” I asked.   “It was held up by the coder waiting for me to sign off on it,” said the faculty member.

5. “Why?” I asked.   “I suppose I got behind on my records,” said the faculty member.

“So, it was not really the fault of TES,” I said.

“No, I guess not,” said the faculty member.