A paper based on the Instructor's Resource Kit, Module 1, Managing the Implementation of Development Projects, by Jerry Brown under the direction of John Didier, World Bank Institute, Washington D.C., 1998. Robert Youker may be reached at bobyouker@worldnet.att.net
and John Didier at jdidier@worldbank.org.
Published here April 2003.

Abstract | Introduction | Hierarchy of Objectives | The Why-How Framework
Another Example | Strategic Alternatives | Horizontal Logic | Summary | Conclusions

Another Example

Let's look at another example of how this works. You may be familiar with the age-old story about the stonemasons who were working on a cathedral. When asked what he was doing, the first one said he was hitting stones with a hammer. The second one, also hitting stones, said he was making square stones. The third said he was building a wall, while the fourth said he was building a cathedral. Finally, the fifth one answered he was giving praise to the greater glory of God.

Now I ask you, who was correct? Of course, the answer is that all of them were correct. Each stonemason was giving an objective that related to the same project, but which was at a different level in the Why-How Framework. In fact, if you look carefully, each mason was answering the question of why the previous mason was pursuing his objective.

The first mason was at the lowest level of the hierarchy: hitting stones with a hammer. Why was he doing this? To make square stones. Why make square stones? To build a wall. Why build a wall? To build a cathedral. Why build a cathedral? To give glory to God.

This clearly illustrates the point that I mentioned earlier. At any point in a hierarchy, you can go to an objective and ask why are you going to do it and work up the hierarchy. As you do so, you move to a broader objective that puts the "why" into a broader perspective and gives you a better understanding of the end that is being sought. You can also go to any objective and work your way down the hierarchy. As you go down the hierarchy you answer the question of how each objective will be achieved and in doing so, each becomes increasingly narrower and detailed.

Answering all the Why-How questions to the appropriate level of detail is a very important part of the planning process and is a primary task of project planners during the early phases of the project life cycle. It provides a structure for policymakers and sponsors to use when determining how a project fits into an overall policy framework and for judging whether any disconnects, i.e. flaws in logic, exist from one level of the Means-Ends or Why-How framework to another. The project manager can also use it during implementation to help motivate project staff and to build commitment. It is much easier to be excited about a project and motivated to "hit stones with a hammer" if you believe you are contributing to the "greater glory of God" than if you are just hitting stones with a hammer!

A sophisticated way to think about the Why-How (Means-End) Framework is as a series of causative linkages that transform inputs into outputs and results as you move from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top.

The Why-How Framework  The Why-How Framework

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