The Why-How Framework
You may have noticed that each time we asked "how" a particular objective
was to be accomplished, we went down the hierarchy to the next lower level objective
for our answer.
For example, if we ask: "How is the 50 KW of power to be produced?"
the answer is at the next lower level and is the project objective, i.e. "Build
a new power plant". This illustrates an interesting and very useful aspect
of the hierarchy of objectives. Each level answers the "how" question
for the level that is immediately above it in the hierarchy. But the hierarchy
also has another interesting characteristic that I havenÍt mentioned yet, although
you may have noticed it. This relates to what happens when you go up the hierarchy. That is to say for example:
Question: "Why build the power plant?" (the project objective.)
Answer: "To produce 50 KW of power" (the strategic objective.)
This feature of the hierarchy of objectives is called the "Why-How framework".
The Why-How Framework is based on the Means-End Chain developed by March and
Simon in 1958. When you ask "why" something is to be done you are asking
about "ends" i.e. what is the purpose or objective of the activity.
When you ask "how" something is to be done, you are asking about the
"means" i.e. the "strategy" that will be used.
As I said earlier, "Why" questions are answered by looking up the
hierarchy and "How" questions are answered by going down the hierarchy,
and this is true for every level in the hierarchy. That is, you can find the
respective answers at the next level up or next level down. This is a very useful
feature when developing a Why-How framework, because you can start anywhere in
the hierarchy, at the top, bottom, or somewhere in the middle. You simply work
your way up and down from your starting place until you have developed a complete