5 Whys Analysis

Apply 5 Whys to determine the root cause of the problem

When seeking to solve a problem, it is essential that the project team understand the key contributing factors to why the problem is occurring. The 5 Whys Root Cause Analysis provides a simple, easy-to-understand approach for determining why a problem exists.


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.

Template for facilitating 5 whys.

To complete the 5 Whys exercise, apply the following steps:

  1. Form a team and identify a facilitator to keep the team focused.
  2. Define the problem.
  3. Observe and collect data about the problem.
  4. Ask the First “Why?”
  5. Repeatedly ask “Why?” until the root cause is uncovered.
  6. Work on Root Cause.
5 Whys Process

The 5 Whys technique is a simple and effective way of addressing root cause issues. After the team has drilled down to identify the root cause or causes, they can then design and implement counter-measures to address the root cause issues, preventing them from recurring.

To learn more about 5 Whys, check out our overview video.

To download the customizable 5 Whys template (in Microsoft Word), please add the 5 Whys template to your cart and hit check out.

Template for facilitating 5 whys.

Download the Free "5 Why Analysis" Template (PDF)

Purchase the template to customize for your own organization

All of our tools and templates are available in Word or PowerPoint format to allow organizations to purchase and customize the templates to their brand standards.

The 5 Whys Analysis is a simple and effective approach for determining the root cause issues of a problem. Addressing the root of the problem is critical to ensuring that the issue does not return after the completion of the improvement effort. This topic is a core concept of solving problems as a Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt. To learn more about becoming a Yellow Belt, please visit our Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Certification Course.

Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt Training, continuous improvement certifications

The Yellow Belt leads local-level improvement efforts that are considered “low hanging fruit” projects – meaning the project complexity is low and that the project can be completed with minimal data and on a short timeline of 60-90 days. The Yellow Belt’s primary focus is to reduce process waste, making processes easier to perform and more efficient.


In most organizations, the Yellow Belts serve as team members on more complex projects, which are led by the organization’s Green Belts and Black Belts.

Need help determining the root cause issue of a problem you are trying to solve?

Schedule a 30 minute coach call today and let’s talk through the details. 

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