The 5 Whys Technique
What is the 5 Whys Technique?
The 5 Whys Technique is a method of causal analysis. It helps the user determine the cause of a problem by simply asking "why?" until the answer presents itself. Though it is called the 5 Whys Technique, it does not have to be 5 Whys.
How is the 5 Whys Technique Used?
The Five Whys Technique is used by first stating the problem, and then asking why that problem occurs. If the answer is another problem, you ask why again, and so on. You continue this until you come to the root cause of the initial problem.
Why is the 5 Whys Technique Used?
The Five Whys Technique is used to find the root cause of the performance problem.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of the 5 Whys Technique?
What is a Real World Example of the 5 Whys Technique?
iSixSigma gives us the following example of the 5 Whys Technique in action.
Problem Statement: Customers are unhappy because they are being shipped products that don't meet their specifications.
1. Why are customers being shipped bad products?
-- Because manufacturing built the products to a specification that is different from what the customer and the sales person agreed to.
2. Why did manufacturing build the products to a different specification than that of sales?
-- Because the sales person expedites work on the shop floor by calling the head of manufacturing directly to begin work. An error happened when the specifications were being communicated or written down.
3. Why does the sales person call the head of manufacturing directly to start work instead of following the procedure established by the company?
-- Because the "start work" form requires the sales director's approval before work can begin and slows the manufacturing process (or stops it when the director is out of the office),
4. Why does the form contain an approval for the sales director?
-- Because the sales director needs to be continually updated on sales for discussions with the CEO.
In this case, only 4 Whys were required to find out that a non-value added signature authority is helping to cause a process breakdown ("Determine" 2015).
5 Whys Technique Example
Example of the 5 Whys Technique of causal analysis (Rothwell 2013).
5 Whys Technique Job Aid
Job aid created by Tiffani Reardon.