What is the Five Why’s
Five why’s is a technique used in improvement programs to help find the root cause of a problem.
Five why’s has been around for many years and it’s a simple technique, by repeatedly asking “why” the change agent/project team can challenge current methods and reveal the issues causing the problem.
Five why’s has a number of benefits in that it’s simple to do (doesn’t require specialist training) – through a systematic approach it helps identify causes (or the root cause) of problems being experienced.
Five why’s works best in a project workshop environment or where interviews are being conducted – although notionally why is asked “five” times – you may find that the root cause is revelaed with less why’s
Example five why’s
1/ Why are our customers not satisfied
Because we always ship late
2/ Why do we ship late
Because our products aren’t ready
3/ Why are our products not ready
Because Purchasing order the materials incorrectly
4/ Why do purchasing order incorrectly
Because they don’t specify a lead time
5/ Why don’t they specify a lead time
Because their process doesn’t tell them to.
Notice in the example above how we peeled the layers of the problem down tracing back the problem to it’s source. Don’t be surprised if using the 5 why’s doesn’t result in many other questions relating to your project as the project team becomes more familiar with the business processes and issues therein.