But Why? So What?

This is an effective technique to determine and articulate outcomes - the fundamental reason/s for a problem, or 'root cause/s' of a particular issue.

Facilitator led, or facilitator can select one member of the group to act as the 'Asker', who then will be the one asking the 'But why?' questions. Explain to participants that in order to get to the bottom of the problem and begin developing solutions, all statements will be challenged by the 'Asker' (or the facilitator). Identification of root cause/s is made by answering/exploring the 'But why?' and 'So what?' questions and answers until responses are exhausted.

    1. The facilitator opens general discussion around the problem and its potential or probable causes.

    1. Record comments on flip chart paper; leave room to tape/post additional comments.

    1. The facilitator or 'Asker' guides participants to what the group considers to be the 'root causes' of the problem by asking 'But why?' or 'So what?' in relation to each statement or suggestion.

    1. Once participants have identified some key root causes of the priority problem, open general discussion around what approaches would remove or counteract those root causes.

    1. Initiate focused discussion on all potential approaches to resolving the issue; ensure the group articulates at least three or four achievable approaches.

    1. Look at all possible approaches and have the group select the one it believes is the best solution or provides the best direction for addressing the root cause/s of the specific problem.

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