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
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.