The value of asking why.

Asking why (or why not) has benefits in the workplace. For example, it can open doors to great possibilities, lead to information that can help our organizations, and prevent us from pursuing things that do not make sense. Following are three scenarios to demonstrate the power of this simple question plus examples of “why” questions you should use on the job:

  • Why is it a good idea for Visa Inc. to acquire Visa Europe? 
  • Why is wire payments fraud increasing? 
  • Why should card program managers push back occasionally? 


Here is an example, albeit an extreme one, of doors opening to great possibilities. This week’s Visa Europe press release is full of reasons why the acquisition, subject to regulatory approvals, makes sense. It begins by declaring, “European clients will have greater access to Visa Inc.’s scale and resources and global clients will have a more seamless experience. Additionally, European clients will benefit from direct access to Visa Inc.’s investments in innovative technology and differentiated products and services.” To read the entire press release and gain more insights, visit Obviously, a deal like this requires careful analysis and abundant exploration of “why” before it reaches this point.

Wire Payments Fraud

As reported in the 2015 AFP Payments Fraud and Control Survey Report, wires fraud incidents nearly doubled between 2013 and 2014. Taking it further, they explored why, leading to information that can help organizations. Their conclusions point to business email compromises (BEC) for which the FBI has issued public service announcements. As the FBI notes, fraudsters compromise legitimate business email accounts through social engineering or computer intrusion techniques to conduct unauthorized transfers of funds. The scam has been reported in all 50 United States and in 79 countries. In short, organizations need to be aware of this growing problem, train their employees and update their procedures to protect themselves. See what the FBI recommends...

 What can asking why do for you or your organization? 

What can asking why do for you or your organization? 

Card Program Managers

As a Commercial Card program manager (PM) you need to pick your battles, but there are times when pushing back yields benefits for your organization. I recently met a PM who shared how a colleague asked him to create a special report each month, consuming precious time. When the PM asked this person why they needed the report, the only answer was, “Because I want it.” The PM responded that, without a legitimate business reason, he needed to decline the request.

Now, if the requester is among senior management, pushback should probably be softer; for example, “Help me understand what you need...” The point is, by asking why in some fashion, you can determine how to best contribute and support an organization goal (or whether your best response is declining something altogether).   

Examples of “Why” Questions to Use on the Job

  • Why is ________ needed? As described above, learning more before agreeing to do something can save time. 
  • Why do we _______? It is possible that your organization is doing something today that is no longer relevant.
  • Why don’t we use cards for ________? You might be able to combat this and expand the program. 
  • Why is this trend occurring? Reviewing program metrics, audit results, etc. and then taking the necessary action can result in improved compliance or other positive outcome. 
  • Last but not least, Why am I doing ________? Perhaps this should be the first question before starting anything.

About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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