How/Why Laddering

Goal

Students will develop the skills and understandings to get at some of the deeper insights and issues contributing to and issue


Duration

20 min


Group Size

Small Groups 2-4

What is it?

Why laddering is an exercise in helping students get to the deeper insights and underlying issues of a given challenge.Students will meet with their subject, take what they feel are their most valuable insights, and proceed to continually ask why until they get to some deeper understandings….

Why do we do it?


As a general rule, asking ‘why’ tends to yield more abstract statements and asking ‘how’ gets you more specific ones. Often times abstract statements are more meaningful but not as directly actionable, and the opposite is true of more specific statements. That is why you ask ‘why?’ often during interviews – in order to get toward more meaningful feelings from users rather than specific likes and dislikes, and surface layer answers.

When you think about the needs of someone, you can use why-how laddering to flesh out a number of needs, and find a middle stratum of needs that are both meaningful and actionabl


How to why-how ladder?


When considering the needs of your user, start with one meaningful one.Write that need on the board and then ladder up from there by asking ‘why’. Ask why your user would have that need, and phrase the answer as a need. For example, “Why would she ‘need to see a link between a product and the natural process that created it’? Because she ‘needs to have confidence that something will not harm her health by understanding where it came from’.” Combine your observations and interviews with your intuition to identify that need. Then take that more abstract need and ask why again, to create another need.Write each on the board above the former. At a certain point you will reach a very abstract need, common to just about everyone, such as the ‘need to be healthy’. This is the top of that need hierarchy branch.

You can also ask ‘how’ to develop more specific needs. Climb up (‘why?’) and down (how?) in branches to flesh out a set of needs for your user. You might come up to one need and then come back down. In the previous example, you climbed up to the ‘need to understand where a product came from’. Then ask ‘how’ to identify the ‘need to participate in the process of creating a product’. There will also be multiple answers to your ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ – branch out and write those down.

The result (after some editing and refining) is needs hierarchy that paints a full picture of your user or composite user. Alternatively, you can use this tool to hone in on one or two particularly salient needs.


Sample Lesson (15-20 min)

Materials: Pencil, Paper, Recording device

Interviews 10 min:
Break students up into partners and give them a prompt to start the interview, ie How do you organize your binders and notebooks? Throughout the conversation, the interviewer will continually ask WHY. A sample conversation might go like this:
I: ‘How do you organize your binders and notebooks?’
P: ‘Well, I have a shared binder for Social Studies and English. I have a separate notebook for
Math.’
I: ‘Why?’
P: ‘Well, I get a lot of handouts in Social Studies and English so it’s important to have a binder
where I can add and remove pages. My Math notebook is small so I can take it with me
everywhere in case I have an idea to jot down. I guess I also think English and Social Studies
sort of fit together.’
I: ‘Why?’
P: ‘Well I sometimes think of these things as all happening in the past. I haven’t been exposed to as much
current day events.’
I: ‘Why?’
P: ‘Well, I guess sometimes the news is so negative that I choose to block it out.’
I: ‘Why?’
P: ‘I think I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scope of the challenges we face and it’s hard for me to
know how I can play a role.’

The kinds of responses from this exercise tend to go deep and be much more philosophical, emotional and
social. These sample responses might inspire Ideas like an on-line new search that prioritizes only articles
on certain subjects. Give each student 5 minutes to interview the other.

D.Brief (5-10 min)
Ask students a combination of the following questions:
1. What did you learn about your partner?
2. What surprised you?
3. What would you have missed if you hadn't asked why?
4. Why do you think this is an important tool for building empathy and gaining deeper insights?


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/groups/k12/search/index.rss?tag=hotlist/groups/k12/search/?tag=hotWhat’s HotHotListHot!?tag=hot6/groups/k12/sidebar/HotListAdded tag - hotdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 18:05:15+00:002016-06-09 18:05:15addTag14Added tag - activitydyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:57+00:002016-06-09 08:51:57addTag13Added tag - testdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:48+00:002016-06-09 08:51:48addTag12Added tag - prototypedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:46+00:002016-06-09 08:51:46addTag11Added tag - ideatedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:45+00:002016-06-09 08:51:45addTag10Added tag - definedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:43+00:002016-06-09 08:51:43addTag9Added tag - empathizedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:42+00:002016-06-09 08:51:42addTag8Added tag - stokedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:40+00:002016-06-09 08:51:40addTag7Added tag - design thinking processdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:38+00:002016-06-09 08:51:38addTag6Added tag - resourcesdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 08:51:35+00:002016-06-09 08:51:35addTag5dyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 23:47:53+00:002016-06-06 23:47:53updated4dyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 21:53:23+00:002016-06-06 21:53:23updated3dyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 20:58:40+00:002016-06-06 20:58:40updated2First createddyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 20:58:21+00:002016-06-06 20:58:21created1wiki2016-06-06T23:47:53+00:00groups/k12/wiki/bb07fFalseResources and Tools by Stage/groups/k12/wiki/bb07f/Resources_and_Tools_by_Stage.htmlDevon Young14 updatesResources and Tools by Stage Key tools and worksheets in each step Warm-up [Download file "Stoke Deck.pdf"] Improv Toolkit for Educators, Improv Activiti...Falsedyoung2016-06-06T23:47:53+00:00Added tag - hotdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 18:04:48+00:002016-06-09 18:04:48addTag18Added tag - full-cycledyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:38+00:002016-06-09 06:21:38addTag17Added tag - designed by k12 labdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:34+00:002016-06-09 06:21:34addTag16Added tag - educator workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:23+00:002016-06-09 06:21:23addTag15Added tag - 2-hourdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:18+00:002016-06-09 06:21:18addTag14Added tag - 2016dyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:08+00:002016-06-09 06:21:08addTag13Removed tag - workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:02+00:002016-06-09 06:21:02removeTag12Removed tag - morning routinedyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:00+00:002016-06-09 06:21:00removeTag11Removed tag - dp0dyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:20:59+00:002016-06-09 06:20:59removeTag10Removed tag - design thinking burstdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:20:56+00:002016-06-09 06:20:56removeTag9Added tag - workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 15:58:59+00:002016-06-06 15:58:59addTag8Added tag - design thinking burstdyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 20:34:51+00:002016-05-23 20:34:51addTag7Removed tag - burstdyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 20:34:43+00:002016-05-23 20:34:43removeTag6Added tag - morning routinedyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 20:34:05+00:002016-05-23 20:34:05addTag5Added tag - dp0dyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 20:33:54+00:002016-05-23 20:33:54addTag4Added tag - burstdyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 20:33:47+00:002016-05-23 20:33:47addTag3dyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 16:46:27+00:002016-05-23 16:46:27updated2First createddyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 16:08:56+00:002016-05-23 16:08:56created1wiki2016-05-23T16:46:27+00:00groups/k12/wiki/213e5FalseDesign Thinking Burst: May 18, 2016 /groups/k12/wiki/213e5/Design_Thinking_Burst_May_18_2016_.htmlDevon Young18 updatesDesign Thinking Burst: May 18, 2016 What: An introductory experience for educators who are interested in learning about the design thinking process. When: April 28, 2016 at the d...Falsedyoung2016-05-23T16:46:27+00:00Added tag - hotdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 18:05:46+00:002016-06-09 18:05:46addTag16Added tag - full-cycledyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:22:15+00:002016-06-09 06:22:15addTag15Added tag - designed by k12 labdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:22:11+00:002016-06-09 06:22:11addTag14Added tag - educator workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:22:06+00:002016-06-09 06:22:06addTag13Added tag - 2-daydyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:22:01+00:002016-06-09 06:22:01addTag12Added tag - 2016dyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:58+00:002016-06-09 06:21:58addTag11Removed tag - workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:52+00:002016-06-09 06:21:52removeTag10Removed tag - discover design thinkingdyoungDevon Young2016-06-09 06:21:50+00:002016-06-09 06:21:50removeTag9Added tag - workshopdyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 15:59:14+00:002016-06-06 15:59:14addTag8Removed tag - savedyoungDevon Young2016-06-06 15:59:10+00:002016-06-06 15:59:10removeTag7Added tag - discover design thinkingdyoungDevon Young2016-05-23 21:41:41+00:002016-05-23 21:41:41addTag6Added tag - savedyoungDevon Young2016-05-16 20:35:23+00:002016-05-16 20:35:23addTag5dyoungDevon Young2016-05-13 21:14:20+00:002016-05-13 21:14:20updated4dyoungDevon Young2016-05-11 15:57:56+00:002016-05-11 15:57:56updated3dyoungDevon Young2016-05-11 03:15:39+00:002016-05-11 03:15:39updated2First createddyoungDevon Young2016-05-11 03:01:09+00:002016-05-11 03:01:09created1wiki2016-05-13T21:14:20+00:00groups/k12/wiki/7c78cFalseDiscover Design Thinking workshop: May 5-6 2016/groups/k12/wiki/7c78c/Discover_Design_Thinking_workshop_May_56_2016.htmlDevon Young16 updatesDiscover Design Thinking workshop: May 5-6 2016 Edit this page Create a new page Delete this ...Falsedyoung2016-05-13T21:14:20+00:00Added tag - hotarazAriel Raz2016-06-09 18:05:38+00:002016-06-09 18:05:38addTag13Added tag - prototypearazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:30:10+00:002016-06-09 06:30:10addTag12Added tag - full-cyclearazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:30:00+00:002016-06-09 06:30:00addTag11Added tag - grades 9-12arazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:29:55+00:002016-06-09 06:29:55addTag10Added tag - student curriculumarazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:29:51+00:002016-06-09 06:29:51addTag9Added tag - 1-weekarazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:28:21+00:002016-06-09 06:28:21addTag8Added tag - 2016arazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:28:18+00:002016-06-09 06:28:18addTag7Removed tag - student workshoparazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:28:07+00:002016-06-09 06:28:07removeTag6Removed tag - fail forwardarazAriel Raz2016-06-09 06:28:03+00:002016-06-09 06:28:03removeTag5Added tag - student workshoparazAriel Raz2016-06-06 16:37:11+00:002016-06-06 16:37:11addTag4Added tag - fail forwardarazAriel Raz2016-06-06 16:36:53+00:002016-06-06 16:36:53addTag3arazAriel Raz2016-03-14 03:01:39+00:002016-03-14 03:01:39updated2First createdarazAriel Raz2016-03-14 02:48:24+00:002016-03-14 02:48:24created1wiki2016-03-14T03:01:39+00:00groups/k12/wiki/0502dFalseMt. 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After the six of us (Rebecca, Megan, Keely, Kim, Anna, and I) from Nueva met Deepa and Veena fro...Falselbritos2009-11-19T16:29:14+00:00hot/groups/k12/search/index.rss?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcomelist/groups/k12/search/?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcomeRecent ChangesRecentChangesListUpdates?sort=modifiedDate&kind=all&sortDirection=reverse&excludePages=wiki/welcome0/groups/k12/sidebar/RecentChangesListmodifiedDateallRecent ChangesRecentChangesListUpdateswiki/welcomeNo recent changes.reverse5search