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The 5 Whys technique is an effective way to sort through a wide range of problems.
The idea is not to place blame, it is rather to uncover problems with processes, procedures or standard work.
In our example, Alice did not fail the customer, a support coverage oversight did.
Here’s a simple example: Now the team knows why the customer is unhappy and exactly how to prevent the same problem from happening in the future.
When deploying the 5 Whys, keep in mind that you are looking for flawed processes, not people.
It may not solve the problem by itself but may guide you to an alternative path to follow, for example using a cause and effect diagram (Ishikawa diagram) or other problem solving tool to fix the problem.
5 Why Problem Solving
The technique is designed to guide you to the root of the problem. Start with the problem and ask a ‘why’ question about the problem.But what is the best method to find effective solutions?Effective solutions can only be found by searching for the root cause in a structured and controlled manner, for instance using the 5 whys analysis.This answer doesn’t tell you how to fix the problem, only what caused it.This is where some other problem solving tool will come in useful to determine why the root cause existed.Although problems are not welcome in any organization, they appear in organizations of all kinds.For every problem there is a solution and problems are a reason to start up improvement projects.This article explains the 5 whys analysis, developed by continuous improvement guru Sakichi Toyoda in a practical way.After reading you will understand the basics of this powerful root cause analysis and problem solving tool.There has been some criticism of the tool in that its too basic or doesn’t fix the problem.But when time is short and you need to get to the root cause quickly then the technique is incredibly useful.