Innovative Thinking – Why, Why, Why – Blog 082

The Seven Why’s

Here’s another fun technique for getting to the bottom of things.  It’s also really fast.  It called  The “Seven Whys” of problem solving.

There’s no question who invented this technique.  Anyone who has had or has ever been around pre-schoolers know the Seven Whys parent torture.

You’ve heard it before.

Child says, “Mommy, why is the sky blue?”

Mom says, “Because of the water in the air.”

Child says “Mommy, why is there water in the air?”

Mom says, “Because the sun evaporates the water and it goes into the sky.”

Child says, “Why doe the water evaporate Mommy?”

Mom, “Because the sun heats up the water…  Enough!”

That’s as far as I remember from my childhood.  I usually got hit about now.

Here’s a practical Seven Why’s question / answer scenario.  Watch how the continuous series of “why” questions lead you to a solution.

Problem: I can’t start my motorcycle… Why?

Answer: There’s no charge in the battery… Why?

Answer: My alternator didn’t charge it… Why?

Answer: My alternator belt broke… Why?

Answer: Because I never checked it for wear… Why?

Answer: I never created a checklist… Why?

Answer: I never took the time…  I don’t know, maybe I should.

Conclusion: Is the time to create a checklist less time and effort than the time and effort to fix the belt and recharge the battery?

It’s now your turn.  Think of a recent problem you’ve encountered and go through the seven whys to see if it can bring any clarity to the problem and a possible solution.

Try it!



“It is not enough to have a good mind, the main thing is to use it well.”

-Rene Descartes


Lon Safko
Serial Innovator, Keynote Speaker, Trainer, Innovative Thinking


Tags: innovative thinking, creative, creative thinking, Innovation, critical thinking definition, innovation definition, critical thinking skills, creative process

Innovative Thinking Bible
Now On Amazon

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *