I think parents know better than anyone that children go through a “why phase”. A phase in a child’s life where they question everything. “Dad, why are you washing the car?”, “Mommy, why can’t I play outside?”, “Why is it raining?”, “Why do I need to eat my vegetables?”… And when you answer the question “Because vegetables make you strong and healthy”, they will continue to ask “why?” for at least six times (“Why do vegetables make me strong?”) to the point the parent gets tired answers “Because I say so, now stop asking why”. And as we get older we unfortunately do sometimes stop asking why, accepting life is what it is.
As a consultant, the Why-question is of great importance, and I tell my newly graduated colleagues to start asking the Why-question again.
Why? Because you get a deeper understanding of reasoning, the meaning of a question or situation, and it helps you to look at the subject from a distance to oversee more then just the subject. If the boss of logistics company asks their financial consultant advice about whether or not they can afford to buy faster trucks, the answer should not be “Yes you have the money to buy a couple new trucks”. The answer should be “Why? Why do you want to buy faster trucks?”. The boss might reply “Because we need to reduce our travel time between warehouses”. Now, a good (or at least decent) consultant will use this Why-question to understand the reason of this question and investigate the situation. Maybe the consultant will find out that the rides between warehouses take place during rush-hour and while the truck-drivers use the shortest route, this is not the fastest route. Advising to travel other routes on other times will solve the boss his problem and save him money!
In photography I should ask myself the Why-question more often. Whenever I am about to take a picture, I should ask myself “Why do I like this picture?”. It makes me rethink, recompose, review, and slows me down in order to look for any improvements to emphasize what I like. Ken Rockwell calls it FARTing (click here). Whenever you Feel like taking a picture, Ask yourself what makes you feel like taking a picture, now Refine this idea and Take the picture.
Hopefully, we can be a little more like children again and be eager enough to ask the Why-question!