The 5 x Why Method (The 5 Whys)




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Ger de Waard
Management Consultant, Netherlands

The 5 x Why Method (The 5 Whys)

DESCRIPTION OF THE 5 WHY METHOD
The "5 x why" method has been developed by Toyota to perform an iterative Root Cause Analysis of production-related problems. The "5 x why" method is one of the available tools for performing a root-cause analysis. Its simple design and effective output made the 5 x why method also into a popular method used in Kaizen, Lean Production, Six Sigma, Value Stream Analysis, etc.

HOW DOES THE 5 X WHY METHOD WORK?
  • IDENTIFY THE PROBLEM for which the root cause has to be identified.
  • ASK: WHY has this problem arisen? The result is a reply with a new or different problem.
  • KEEP ASKING: WHY? Take the first answer (or problem) and reformulate the question: Where has this issue has arisen? Repeat these steps until you arrive at the core (root-cause) of the issue/problem.
USING THE 5 WHYS. APPLICATIONS
The 5 x Whys can be used for several things:
  • VALIDATING ASSUMPTIONS: It is a simple tool that helps the Belt to unearth an assumption embedded in the process he/she is investigating. Once an assumption is revealed and of course also tested with data, it ensures excellent results.
  • DETERMINING ROOT CAUSES: However 5 x Why is more used in determining the Root Cause(s) of problems
    This technique is most used in the Analyze phase of DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control). The 5 x Whys doesn’t involve a statistical hypothesis and in many cases can be completed without a data collection plan.
  • FINDING NON-VALUE ADD ACTIVITIES: The 5 Whys can also be used as a tool in Value Stream Analysis. Value stream mapping is as we know hard work because it requires looking at a process as if every step is non-value-added and is costing the organization time and resources. The 5 Whys is an easy way to root out as many non-value-added steps as possible.
IS ASKING “WHY?” 5 TIMES ENOUGH?
Often you need to ask 6, 7 and even sometimes 8 x Why to find the real root cause of the problem. Perhaps a better name would be "Multiple Why’s Method".

EXAMPLE OF 5 WHYS
An excellent example of 5 x Why is the Jefferson Memorial by Juran Institute.
 

Rating

 
1
Ashok Kella
Manager, India
 

Our Endorsement to the 5 Whys

Yes, recently, in a complex issue dissecting in our organisation, unaware of the 5 Whys theory, we s... Sign up

 
4
David Week
Director, Australia
 

Better, but not 'root'

Five Whys is a great way to get better answers, but I think that’s it's a problem to call the result... Sign up

 
5
Ivan Kohlinsky
Management Consultant, United Kingdom
 

Back to Fundamental Thinking

Excuse me, but I am asking myself WHY is this method thought of as new, useful and fundamental, as i... Sign up

 
4
Dr. Schoenborn
Management Consultant, Germany
 

5-W in Combination with Impact Measurement

I agree with @David that 5-W is a good approach for root-cause-analysis, but you should be aware tha... Sign up

 
3
Wulf-Dieter Krueger
Teacher, Thailand
 

5 Times Why - the Emperor's New Clothes

Watch your children asking this question again and until they are satisfied with the answer. This m... Sign up

 
0
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Root Cause by Conscious Approach

A rational approach is certainly a way to get clarity, however could there be other ways also? For e... Sign up

 
1
David Torres
Manager, Mexico
 

5 x WHY’S is not Enough for Me

I took an 8D’s course and the homework was to take a real actual client customer complaint, so my te... Sign up

 
7
Johnny Michael Tan
Management Consultant, Malaysia
 

I Prefer the Following Name for this Tool: Why-Why Analysis

I want to share that when my Semiconductor manufacturing site was pursuing Total Productive Maintena... Sign up

 
2
Rodolfo Dionisi
Argentina
 

Tools According to Problem Complexity

Remember that the first step to solve a problem (or to be more precise, to have reasonable chances o... Sign up

 
0
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Role of Biases in Determining the 5 Whys

The 5 Whys as a tool is available for long and is available everywhere. Why is it not effective as i... Sign up

 
0
Mireille.durin
HR Consultant, Belgium
 

1 WHY is Enough Sometimes

@Srinivas: There is always a WHY... Why this situation, why this conflict, why this feeling... But i... Sign up

 
3
Pedro Monteiro
Manager, Portugal
 

5 Why is Excellent Tool to Start and Get Back to the Basics

5 Whys is one of the best, simple and effective problem solving tools. Is it not enough?! Yes, some... Sign up

 
2
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Preparing for Usage of 5 Whys

Before we use the 5 Whys is it possible and useful to try to reduce any biases by preparing at diffe... Sign up

 
2
VILMA JOY VALLE, Philippines
 

You Can Use 1 Why or 5 Whys or Multiple Whys

Not all people can solve a particular problem with just one "why". And not all problems, even how k... Sign up

 
1
Ashok Kella
Manager, India
 

Change 5 Why into Why-why Analysis

@Johnny Michael Tan: I agree with you that "Five" is symbolic; the introducer has intended to make y... Sign up

 
1
Dietmar W. Sokowski
Consultant, United States
 

Back to Fundamental Thinking

@Ivan Kohlinsky: Good point Ivan. Your comment is ever so true. Similarly, the 7-Ws have been around... Sign up

 
3
Sudheendra G. Mudikeri
Management Consultant, India
 

A Tip for this Fundamental Why-Why Technique

No matter how many WHYs are used, this tool has withstood the test of time as an effective one for R... Sign up

 
2
Olaf de Hemmer
Business Consultant, France
 

Why? or: What For?

I agree with pointing out that 'root cause' is helpful in solving certain problems. Causality is at ... Sign up

 
1
C.L. Kappagomtula
Professor, Malaysia
 

Even a Single 'why' Can Suffice, Without Overtly Asking 'Why'

Those of you working in production/operations might have come across this situation several times, a... Sign up

 
1
Miguel Sacramento
Business Consultant, Brazil
 

5 Why is not Japanese

@Wulf-Dieter Krueger: Yes. Every children has a "multiple why device" already built-in.... Sign up

 
1
Bevis Qiu
China
 

Find the Most Cost-Effective Solution after 5 Whys

Different solutions can be found through different Why questions. I think we might then compare the ... Sign up

 
1
Olaf de Hemmer
Business Consultant, France
 

Children Ask Why? Meaning what For?

@Wulf-Dieter Krueger: Are chidren not more interested in understanding the meaning / purpose of thin... Sign up

 
1
Miguel Sacramento
Business Consultant, Brazil
 

5 Why is not Japanese

@Olaf de Hemmer: Sometimes yes. It depends on each case. For instance, "Why are you prohibiting this... Sign up

 
1
Wulf-Dieter Krueger
Teacher, Thailand
 

Children Asking Why

Children ask why for the same reason as anybody else in management or in a company: there is a probl... Sign up

 
0
FASESIN David
Manager, Nigeria
 

5 WHY Methodology is Advanced

The 5 WHY methodology for problem solving is more advanced than the perspectives of some others disc... Sign up

 
0
Ashok Kella
Manager, India
 

Advanced 5 WHY Methodology

@FASESIN David: The effectiveness of Why-Why has been evaluated in combination with GEMBA, GSTD and ... Sign up

 
0
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Organisation Service or Product Delivery - Human Analogy-Root Cause

When we considering an organization as a living being, then there is always a relation to the mind, ... Sign up

 
1
jorge anibal hoyos hoyos
Manager, Colombia
 

Ask as Many Whys as Necessary

When talking about WHYS I also recall my kids when they were young asking all the time "WHY PA?" I t... Sign up

 
0
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Conscious Approach

We have expert systems which are currently under development which use artificial intelligence and f... Sign up

 
2
VILMA JOY VALLE, Philippines
 

Methods of Iterative Root Cause Analysis

We have a lot of tools available in the past and at present to solve problems. This includes the use... Sign up

 
0
Lee, Youngki
Consultant, Korea (South)
 

My Important Experience with 5 Whys

I engaged a company in a training meeting with employees. They raised a major concern that the curre... Sign up

 
0
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Delegation of All Rationally Viable Methods

If all rational methods including why why approach which can be automated and performance is better ... Sign up

 
0
Olaf de Hemmer
Business Consultant, France
 

AI and Causes / Goals

@Srinivas: I'd be curious to see how AI gets the answer to "why?": the 'cause' may be possible to fi... Sign up

 
2
Paramathmuni srinivas Kumar
India
 

Feedback Loop Mechanism

Using semantic web technologies which are based on artificial intelligence it is possible to interpr... Sign up

 
1
C.L. Kappagomtula
Professor, Malaysia
 

Stochastic Approach to Root Cause Analysis May Be the Need of the Day

I fully concur with Ger De Waard's argument to not restrict to 5 Whys alone. There is no real sancti... Sign up

   

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