The 5 Whys is a simple tool used to help you understand what’s really causing a problem by using an iterative interrogative technique to explore the root cause underlying a particular problem. As the name suggested, 5 Whys takes five iterations of asking “Why” to drill down from one symptom to another until you reached the root cause (Sometimes asking “Why?” five times is too many, and sometimes you need to ask it more than five times).
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Why 5 Whys for Root Cause Analysis (RCA)?
Use the 5 Whys when you want a simple way to dig for deeper understanding of the root cause of a problem, so you can better address it.
- It’s easy.
- It doesn’t require high-tech or complicated tools.
- It can be done relatively quickly.
- It can foster teamwork and common understanding of a problem.
5 Easy Steps for performing 5 Whys Analysis
Before you start the 5 Whys activity, make sure you do this with a team of people who have insight into the problem.
- Explain the 5 Whys Root Cause Analysis process to the team
- Identify the problem clearly
- Ask your first “Why?”
- Ask your “Whys” four more times to identify the root cause. Note That: Whys takes five iterations of asking “Why” to get to drill down to the ultimate cause. Sometimes asking “Why?” five times is too many, and sometimes you need to ask it more than five times.
- Identify a solution by formulating the corrective actions
5 WHYS Root Cause Analysis Example – Car Won’t Start
5 Whys Root Cause Analysis Example – An electronic Mixer Stopped Working
5 Whys Root Cause Analysis Example – Caught Speeding
By repeatedly asking the question, “Why?”, you can peel away the layers of an issue and get to the root cause of a problem. Keep asking “Why?” until you reach an actionable level.