5 Whys methodology is one of the most powerful root cause analysis methods in the Lean management toolbox.
Any team or procedure might run into unforeseen issues. Problems, however, are only signs of more severe problems. Rapid problem-solving can be a practical approach. It does not, however, safeguard your work process against repeating errors. Your team will need to focus on identifying the core problem and appropriately addressing it.
5 Whys Origin
A component of the Toyota Production System is the 5 Whys approach. The method became a crucial component of the industrialist and inventor of Japan Sakichi Toyoda’s, Lean philosophy.
The basis of Toyota’s scientific approach is to ask why five times whenever we find a problem … By repeating why five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.Taiichi Ohno
People with relevant experience should be part of the root cause analysis process. In their field of expertise, they should be able to provide you with the most helpful information on any issue.
5 Whys process
Form a team
Gather a team of employees from several departments. Each representative must understand the process and must be aware of the issue. Having a cross-functional team will allow you to hear various perspectives. This will assist you in gathering sufficient data to make a wise conclusion.
Define the problem
Develop a brief problem statement after discussing the issue with the team. It will assist you in determining the extent of the problem you plan to research. This is crucial because examining an issue with a broad scope might be time-consuming.
Ask 5 Whys
Give one member the authority to oversee the entire process. The facilitator should keep asking “Why” until the team can isolate the underlying reason for the initial issue. Instead of being dependent on subjective ideas, the solutions should be supported by factual data and facts. Don’t ask too many Whys. The goal is not to receive too much improbable advice.
Keep in mind that there may occasionally be more than one underlying cause.
The moment has come to take corrective measures once the team has identified the underlying cause(s). All members should participate in the conversation to choose and implement the optimal solution that will safeguard your process against repeated issues. One of the team members should be in charge of carrying out the chosen action plan. He keeps track of the entire process once the choice has been made.
The team must gather after a set period to assess if their activities had a favourable effect. If not, the procedure must be carried out again. The case should finally be documented and distributed throughout the organisation. Sharing this knowledge will provide a complete picture of the many issues a team can encounter and how those issues might be resolved.
5 Whys Analysis Examples
Using the 5 Whys method, you aim to identify the issue’s root before addressing it. Actually, the five whys may help you determine an unanticipated problem cause. Difficulties that are thought to be technological problems frequently end up being human and process problems. This is why identifying and removing the core cause is essential if you want to prevent failure iterations.
5 Whys Example 1
Problem: There is water on the floor.
- Why? The pipe is leaking.
- Why? There is too much water pressure in the pipe.
- Why? There is a faulty control valve.
- Why? Nobody tested control valves.
- Why? Control valves are not part of the maintenance program.
5 Whys Example 2: Jefferson Memorial
5 Whys Example 3
5 Whys Conclusion
The 5 Whys framework is a quick and efficient approach to problem-solving. Its main objective is to identify the precise source of a specific problem by posing a series of “Why” inquiries.
Using the 5 Whys analysis technique, your team may focus on identifying any issue’s root causes. Instead of blaming others, it encourages each team member to contribute suggestions for ongoing improvement. It offers your team the assurance that it can fix any issue and stop the activity from failing again.
If you have questions you want to discuss, please comment or write to me. David Gousset. For more creativity and analysis tools, read:
- Brainstorming for ideas
- SWOT Analysis and TOWS Matrix
- Design Thinking Process
- Empathise and Empathy Map
- SCAMPER Ideation Method