When you’re asked for a change to your product, it might come in the form of a request to do something specific – such as adding a checkbox or a dropdown.

It can be tempting to say “yes” and get the change made – particularly for what appears to be a relatively small thing. It’s nice to make people happy!

Before you do that, you need to understand why this request is important to the user.

You can use the “five whys” method to get to the root of a problem, and understand the reason for a request. Keep asking “why” until you get there.

Here’s an example:

  • Request: I want a checkbox to mark a ticket as urgent.
  • Why: Important tickets are getting lost.
  • Why: We have too many tickets.
  • Why: We get the same things logged over and over.
  • Why: Users are raising lots of questions with the new Inventory feature.
  • Why: We don’t have training guides for that feature yet.

Asking why tickets are being logged in the first place reveals an issue with training.

If you’d gone ahead and added the checkbox as requested, you wouldn’t have understood why it matters – or if it matters.

You might notice that around the second or third “why”, the reasoning jumps from one area (the tickets) to something else entirely (training).

You don’t have to use all five “why”s if you get there sooner.

Try this technique to learn more about why requests matter.

Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash

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