5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a method used to explore the cause-effect relationships and ultimately to determine the root cause of a problem. The method requires the user to repeatedly ask the question, why, problems occur and things are the way they are. The 5 Whys is a simple tool and it requires certain factors presence for it to be effective. Some are such as:

  • Do not stop at symptoms. Go beyond 5 levels if necessary to uncover the root causes
  • Participants must think beyond the current paradigm and not be bound by the knowledge they possess
  • Good facilitator to probe and challenge assumptions
  • Conduct as a group to promote consistency of results

The 5 Why’s method takes the problem asks the question ‘Why’ does this occur. This same technique is followed until the question can no longer be answered. Once the final why has been answered you are deemed to have reached root cause.