Changing ‘Why?’ into ‘How?’

Your nightly build breaks more often than not and you really need to fix it.

You ask one of the team members ‘Why does the build break almost every night?’ You don’t have any intention to blame him for the broken build, but what would he feel?

What if you tried using this question: ‘Just imagine it is two months on from now and we have managed to fix our nightly build. How have we done that?’

What would be the difference in these two questions. Asking the ‘Why’ and trying to find the problem or asking the ‘How?’ and focus on the solution?

With the second question there is no suggestion of blame at all so there is no need to start defending. Furthermore the second question implies that the problem is solved, so there IS a possible solution.
Last but not least, the ‘how’ sets the stage for thinking about all kinds of possible solutions. When combined with the ‘What else?’ question after every answer you are really ‘digging for gold’ in solving your problem!

So where have you been able to replace ‘Why?’, or even ‘5 Why?’ with ‘How?’

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