The ‘Five Whys’ is a technique used to explore the underlying causes and effects of any problem. It is an interactive discussion of an unexpected event that follows one train of thought to its logical conclusion by asking “Why?” 5 times to get to the root of what happened.
It is one of the simplest and most effective tools for root cause analysis. It is easy to complete without complicated statistical analysis. By repeating ‘’why?’’ five times, the nature of the problem, its solution and the relationship between different root causes of a problem become clear.
The ‘Five Whys’ should be used following the immediate resolution of a problem that has occurred. This can be performed for any unexpected problem the company is facing.
- As soon as a problem is identified and all immediate concerns are dealt with, invite all those affected to a ‘Five Whys’ meeting
- Select someone to lead the discussion, all others present will be involved in discussing the questions
- Write down the problem so that the team can focus on it
- Ask why the problem happened and write the answer down below the problem
- If the answer does not identify the root cause of the problem repeat the above step until all agree that the root cause has been identified – this may take more or less than five whys
Read about more Problem Solving Techniques – Pareto Analysis