Ask Questions

 I keep six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew:
Their names are
What and Why and When
How and Where and Who

 Rudyard Kipling (from "Just So Stories)

 Click here to read more of this poem


Ask "Why" Five Times

From "What a Great Idea" by Chic Thompson.

Ask "Why" a problem is occuring and then ask "Why" four more times.

For example...

1. Why has the machine stopped?
A fuse blew because of an overload
2. Why was there an overload
There wasn't enough lubrication for the bearings
3. Why wasn't there enough lubrication?
The pump wasn't pumping enough
4. Why wasn't lubricant being pumped?
The pump shaft was vibrating as a result of abrasion
5. Why was there abrasion?
There was no filter, allowing chips of material into the pump

Installation of a filter solves the problem.

The Six Universal Questions

Idea Generators should be aware of a simple universal truth. There are only six questions that one human can ask another:







You may want to draw a mind map of the problem with these six words as nodes on the map.

                     What                    Where
                          \                 /                   
                            \              /                   
                              \           /       
            When -------------- Problem: --------------  How
                               /         \
                              /           \
                             /             \
                           Why             Who

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Last updated: 1st November 1997