Lean and Six Sigma projects are implemented to solve a problem. Much has been written about asking the right questions to solve a problem, including the 5 Whys. We look in more detail beyond the 5 Whys at asking the right questions by hearing from several experts.

Questions the Most Important Tool

In a post from KDNuggets, Leo Godin says questions are the most important tool for data engineers. This also applies to Lean and Six Sigma practitioners.

“Ask questions and fully understand the business processes you support.”

“Therefore, it is not good enough to just ask questions. Instead, we need to ask the right questions in a language the business understands.”

You can read Leo’s post here.

Problem Solving: Asking the Right Questions

In his blog post, Krishna Rupanagunta, data scientist, lists 6 types of Socratic questions.
· Clarification
· Probing Assumptions
· Probing Reasons and Evidence
· Viewpoint and Perspective
· Probing Implications and Consequences
· Questions about Questions

He gives his four top reasons for the importance of asking good questions.
· Getting to the right problem to solve
· Making sure that the problem is being solved the right way
· Making sure that the teams are minimizing their own biases (while being fully aware biases are not going to disappear altogether)
· Making sure that the adjacencies are being explored

You can read Krishna’s blog here.

In his follow-up blog, he discusses how to make sure the problem is being solved in the right way.

The Power of Good Questions

Tom Adams, Executive Coach, and Speaker discusses the power of good questions.

“The answers are not what matters. It’s the questions.”

His list of six types of questions from 2014 is similar to those from Khrishna’s 2020 post mentioned earlier.

· Situation
· Clarification
· Probe Assumptions
· Probe Reasons and Evidence
· Viewpoints and Perspectives
· Implications and Consequences

While Tom focuses on more general situations, the questions will certainly apply in Lean and Six Sigma projects.

You can view Tom’s video here.