The order of interrogatives

I am practicing to develop a habit of asking myself these questions in the given sequence before making a decision.

  • Why, do I need to do it?
  • What, should I do?
  • How, am I going to do it?
  • Which, when and where, should I do it?

The ‘it‘ in above questions can be different for different people in different circumstances. However, the ‘it’ carries no weight and context without proper interrogatives affixed to them. And it is not only the interrogatives affixed that matters, but also the order in which they are arranged. If you don’t start with Why followed by What and How; and then by other three ‘W’s (which, when and where), then the very purpose of ‘it‘ may be defeated.

We must first know ‘why‘ we want to do some things and to what effect. It must be followed by the evaluating ‘what’ alternatives do we have, and then selecting the one that we think would be the best possible alternative so as to satisfy the requirements of being an answer to our first question. And once we have the best alternative, we then have reflect on ‘how‘ would that alternative be actually implemented. Once the first three big ‘W’s are answered, then we can bother ourselves with the nitty-gritties of which, when and where.

You mess up the order of these ‘W’s, and you may see that the task we finally accomplish may well be irrelevant to the very purpose of doing ‘it’.

And this is applicable to everything in life, as well as work. Be it learning a new language or a musical instrument or just climbing mountains; or improving your customer service, product design, or instituting a process change or anything fancy that you may do as a part of cultural-shift in your lives and organizations; unless we have compelling answers to these questions addressed in a proper sequence, the outcomes of our efforts may not be in our best interest.

In life, I believe the answers to these questions must all come from within. In work place, I believe the answers to all these questions must come from the outside, usually the customer.