The Power of ‘What, How and Why’: Prioritizing Questions for Problem-Solving and Decision-Making

Walter Reid
2 min readFeb 21

Making sure the right questions are asked (especially in the right order) is an important part of problem-solving, decision-making and planning. Asking “what, how and why” in the right order is a great way to ensure that the right questions are being asked and that the right outcomes are achieved.

Let me articulate this by an example in the form of a son painting a picture for his father -

Son: Dad, look what I made!

Dad: Wow, that’s beautiful! What is it?

Son: It’s a painting.

Dad: How did you make it?

Son: I used acrylic paints and a few different brushes.

Dad: Why did you choose to make this painting?

Son: I wanted to create something that showed how much I care about our family.

The What. The first step in any problem-solving process is to ask “what”. This important question helps to define the problem, set goals and objectives and identify the resources available to address the problem. Asking “what” allows us to gain a better understanding of the current situation and what needs to be done to move forward.

The How. After we have identified the problem, the next step is to ask “how”. This question helps us to identify the best way to move forward and the strategies and tactics that need to be employed to achieve the desired outcome.

The Why. The last step in problem-solving is to ask “why”. Asking “why” helps us to understand the underlying reasons for the problem and the motivations behind our decisions. This question can also help us to identify any potential risks or opportunities associated with the problem.

In conclusion, asking the right questions in the right order is essential when it comes to problem-solving and decision-making. Asking “what, how and why” in the right order can help us to identify the current situation, define our goals and objectives, and understand the motivations behind our decisions. By leveraging the power of this simple yet effective questioning process, we can ensure that we make the best decisions for ourselves and for our families.

Walter Reid

I write for the uplifters, the engagers, and the passionate. My alter egos alter ego.