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What If and Why-Why Diagrams

What-iffing is a form of brainstorming

What-iffing is a form of brainstorming. Raise a number of possibilities, including those that seem to be totally unlikely or impossible and answer the question “What if…. ?”

A Why-Why Diagram is a Tree Diagram where each child statement is determined simply by asking 'why' the parent occurs, as below. It is thus very similar in use to a Cause-Effect Diagram, and techniques may be borrowed from Cause-Effect Diagram usage. Its simplicity can make it useful in less formal situations.

Why-Why diagrams enable individuals and groups to creatively explore and consider numerous causes of a problem (or needs for an opportunity). They help individuals achieve divergent thinking.

Why-Why Diagram

    Why diagrams trace the reasons for a problem.

  • They allow you to get to the root cause of a problem.

  • They allow a group of people to share a problem or situation and hence work together to solve it.

  • They allow you to consciously not follow some paths, digging only into the most likely areas.

    The steps of a Why-Why diagram:

    • Develop a problem statement or focus

    • Explore possible causes of the problem (or reasons for addressing an opportunity) by asking “Why?”

    • For each possible cause (or reason) again explore possible causes for this lower level problem by asking “Why? (the answers to the questions “Why” are the causes of the problem)

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