The 5 Whys, you must start by identifying a problem and asking ‘why is this happening?’. Problems can occur over and over again and this is a remarkably simple approach to identifying the root cause.
If the first answer doesn’t bring you any closer to solving the problem, you must keep asking ‘why’ until you find the weakness in the process.
Quite obviously, the name comes from the idea that you can find the root issue after asking ‘why’ five times. This might not sound like a very sophisticated or innovative approach but don’t underestimate the potential of this simple tool.
The 5 Whys technique was developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used by Toyota as an integral part of the lean methodology and a six sigma tool.
Designed to figure out what is really going wrong rather than basing decisions on what you ‘think’ is happening. The 5 whys offer a great way to problem-solving, and eliminating the root cause is critical. An informed decision is based on a full understanding of the problem.
Clearly define the goals of the analysis so you can pinpoint the exact problem.
The key component of the 5 whys analysis and root cause analysis process is to include people that have hands-on experience with the problem as they have the most valuable information.
Remember to keep asking “why?” until you find a possible root cause of the problem.
Why have sales been reduced?
Why? Weak leads so harder to sell to
Why? Using new software
Why? Product change
Why? New member of staff
This 5 whys example is how a plumber could use the 5 whys to work out what is going wrong and the solution. All businesses can benefit from this methodology.
Solution: Control valves must be added to the maintenance process checklist.
Problems don’t really go your way and this sounds so unsophisticated and simple but doesn’t underestimate its power to resolve your process problems.
Without determining the root cause of your problem, and identifying what is causing it, the problem is likely to keep coming back.
Why don’t you put this tool to the test by writing down a problem within your business and asking the 5 whys? Remember “5” is just a number you can ask “Why” as many times as you need to solve your problem.
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