The One Word That Can Change Your Business

The power of asking why

Ricardo Semler is the CEO and majority owner of Semco Partners, which is a Brazilian company that is known for high democracy among employees and great focus on creativity.

They use a powerful but yet simple creativity technique. The technique is like this: They ask WHY three times before making a decision.

In his book, The Seven-day Weekend, Ricardo talks about that he used to go to three to five business lunches per week. One day he asked himself WHY for the first time: “Why am I going to these business lunches?” He answered: “So I can be closer to that person”.

He then asked WHY for the second time: “Why do I seek for a personal relationship with them?” He answered: “So people wouldn’t see me only as a business but rather relate to me as a person and could therefore overlook some deficiency in price, quality or delivery”.

He then asked WHY for the third time: “Why shouldn’t I use the two hours that each business lunch takes me, to improve price, quality or delivery so that the personal relationship at lunch is no longer necessary?” That’s when he was freed from a never-ending lunch schedule.

Now it is your turn to use this one powerful word and ask yourself WHY.

Take a look at your schedule for today and for each item on you to do list, ask yourself three times WHY you have that item there and for each appointment you have today ask yourself WHY you are doing what you have planned.

Below you can find a very inspiring TED talk where Ricardo Semler talks about how different his company is from most others, how he has worked on creating a new way of teaching children and how important it is to ask WHY.


P.S. It is important to ask WHY at least three times because when you ask it for the third time that is often when you realize that what you are doing does not make sense or could be done in a more useful way.

About Birna Birgisdóttir

Birna Birgisdóttir is a Ph.D candidate, researching creativity and servant leadership. She enjoys learning new things and has a M.Sc. in International Business, B.Sc. in Business Administration, diploma in Human Resource Management and she is an Executive Coach as well as NLP Practitioner.

Birna loves new adventures; has travelled the world, scuba dived in Mexico, skydived in Las Vegas, surfed in Australia, meditated in India and climbed the highest peak in Iceland.


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