You know what the problem is, but you cannot solve it? The 5 Whys technique will allow you to dissect the problem and reveal its underlying causes quickly.


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Here is an example of applying the 5 Whys.

Bạn đang xem: 5 whys: the ultimate root cause analysis tool

Problem – We didn’t send the newsletter for the latest software updates on time.

Why didn’t we send the newsletter on time? Updates were not implemented until the deadline.Why were the updates not implemented on time? Because the developers were still working on the new features.Why were the developers still working on the new features? One of the new developers didn’t know the procedures.Why was the new developer unfamiliar with all procedures? He was not trained properly.Why was he not trained properly? Because CTO believes that new employees don’t need thorough training và they should learn while working.

You can notice that the root cause of the initial problem turned out to be something completely different from most expectations.

Furthermore, it is obvious that it is not technological but a process problem. This is typical because we often focus on the product part of the problem as we neglect the human factor.

Therefore, the 5 Whys analysis aims lớn inspect a certain problem in depth until it shows you the real cause.

Keep in mind that “5” is just a number. Ask “Why” as many times as you need to lớn complete the process và take appropriate actions.

How lớn Get Started with 5 Whys

The 5 Whys technique may help you achieve continuous improvement at any level of your organization. Here are some basics steps you need to lớn follow.

Form a team

Try lớn assemble a team of people from different departments. Each representative has to lớn be familiar with the process that is going khổng lồ be investigated.

By forming a cross-functional team, you are going to receive unique points of view.

This will help you collect enough information lớn make an informed decision. Be aware that this is not an individual task, và it needs to lớn be executed by the team.

Define the problem

Discuss the problem with the team and make a clear problem statement. It will help you define the scope of the issue you are going lớn investigate.

This is important because investigating a wide scope problem may be a time-consuming exercise with blurred boundaries. Try khổng lồ be as focused as possible to find an effective solution in the end.

Ask Why

Empower one person to lớn facilitate the whole process. This team leader will ask the questions và try lớn keep the team focused. The answers should be based on facts và real data, rather than on emotional opinions.

The facilitator should ask “Why” as many times as needed until the team can identify the root cause of the initial problem.

Advice 1. Don’t ask too many Whys. If you keep going, you may over up receiving tons of unreasonable suggestions and complaints, which is not the purpose. Focus on finding the root cause.

Advice 2. Sometimes there could be more than one root cause. In these cases, the 5 Whys analysis will look more lượt thích a matrix with different branches. This may even help you detect & eliminate organizational issues that have permanent negative effects on the overall performance.

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Take Action

After the team detects the root cause(s), it is time lớn take corrective actions. All members should be involved in a discussion to find & apply the best solution that will protect your process from recurring problems.

When the decision is made, one of the team members should be responsible for applying the right actions and observing the whole process.

After a certain period of time, the team needs to meet again and check if their actions actually had a positive impact. If not, the process should be repeated.

In the end, the case should be documented & sent across the organization. Sharing this information will give an insightful overview of different kinds of problems a team may face and how those problems can be eliminated.

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In Summary

The 5 Whys technique is a simple & effective tool for solving problems. Its primary goal is to find the exact reason that causes a given problem by asking a sequence of “Why” questions.

The 5 Whys method helps your team focus on finding the root cause of any problem.It encourages each team member to nói qua ideas for continuous improvement, rather than blaming others.It gives your team the confidence that it can eliminate any problem và prevent the process from recurring failures.