The 5 Whys exercise helps project teams to identify the root cause issue(s) of a specific problem by repeating the question “Why?” until the underlying root cause issue or issues are identified. As the exercise is performed, the Belt will iterate and dive deeper into the issues as each answer forms the basis for the next question.
The 5 Whys tools is most effective when used to resolve simple or moderately difficult problems. For most simple problems, the 5 Whys exercise will follow a single lane of inquiry. However, for some problems, the 5 Whys exercise will branch off in to multiple lanes of inquiry.
To complete the 5 Whys exercise, apply the following steps:
- Form a team and identify a facilitator to keep the team focused.
- Define the problem.
- Observe and collect data about the problem.
- Ask the First “Why?”
- Repeatedly ask “Why?” until the root cause is uncovered.
- Work on Root Cause.
To learn more about 5 Whys, check out our overview video.
To view some of the other improvement tools we have available, please visit our online resource center.
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