Tool #8

My first Product Manager job was at ABB. I was part of a great team to develop electricity meters for the IEC markets (with a focus on Europe). Lars-Olof, Ulf, John, and I had workshops to create the first ABB Meters. John was what in ABB was called a Specialist. A Specialist title was awarded to someone possessing unique skills. John was a specialist in metering and development, but it was a pain to work with John. He challenged everything I said and all the facts I put on the table. He kept asking "Why" in very many ways. Nike had recently launched their brilliant slogan, "Just Do It", and John kept demanding an answer to "WHY?". You can imagine the frustration around the table. It took me some time to see the greatness of John. But it didn't take long until I also became a PAIN for everyone. I had discovered the beauty of the word "WHY".

"Why" is compelling but frustrating. It makes us understand the logic of things. It forces us to think, not just repeat what someone said or believed. But it is often considered a frustrating technique that can flip into a "blame game" or annoy over-ambitious young professionals (as myself in working with John).

To master the "5 WHYs" - technique sounds easy. Just ask "WHY?" five times, right. That just won't get you ANYWHERE. You must always think and connect the answers to the next question. You are unfolding the logic of a problem not just getting answers. Use the "5 WHYs" technique to grok the logic!

Thanks, John, for sharing your greatness!

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