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Why not?


Creative tools > Why not?

When to use it | How to use it | Example | How it works | See also


When to use it

Use it when exploring a situation to understand how people think.

Use it as a way of finding ways to get over blocks to implementing solutions.

Use it to find ways of getting unstuck.

Use it to find creative ways of making most of the people happy for most of the time.



      X    Long



    X      Psychological



        X  Group


How to use it

Adopt roles

Recruit a team of people, each of which will play the roles of people in question. These (the people in question) can be people who are deliberately blocking progress or who may have very different positions and disagree with one another.

Play their viewpoint

Ask each person what their viewpoint is. Get them to play out the role. Ask about their interests. If they are blocking your progress, get them to say why they are blocking you.

If they are in dispute with one another, get them to play out the dispute, but with you 'pressing the buttons on the video player', for example getting them to replay parts or stop to explain why they are acting as they are.

Find the way forward

With this new knowledge, creatively find your way around the blocks, how to resolve disputes, play to individual interests and so on.

If they are saying why you cannot implement an idea, find ways of answering why not (hence the name of this tool) and persuading them otherwise.


I am planning on launching a new business for fitting bathrooms using innovative new fixtures that will allow an entire room to be refitted in less than a day. My experience of a finance company is that they have a long list of obstructions to getting the money I need for capital investment. I get a friend to role-play the financier, stating his objections. We write these down and then ask 'why not??', challenging the assumptions behind each one (including our own assumptions).

How it works

Objections and blocks to progress are often based on incorrect and unspoken assumptions. If you can discover these beforehand, you can creatively find ways to address them. The overall structure is:

  • What the problem is
  • Why you will fail
  • How you can avoid failure

See also

Assumption Busting


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