Friday, July 31, 2009
Very often, the answer to the first "why" will prompt another "why" and the answer to the second "why" will prompt another and so on; hence the name the 5 Whys strategy.
Benefits of the 5 Whys include:
- It helps to quickly determine the root cause of a problem
- It is easy to learn and apply
How to use the 5 Whys:
When looking to solve a problem, start at the end result and work backward (toward the root cause), continually asking: "Why?" This will need to be repeated over and over until the root cause of the problem becomes apparent.
Following is an example of the 5 Whys analysis as an effective problem-solving technique:
- Why is our client, unhappy? Because we did not deliver our services when we said we would.
- Why were we unable to meet the agreed-upon timeline or schedule for delivery? The job took much longer than we thought it would.
- Why did it take so much longer? Because we underestimated the complexity of the job.
- Why did we underestimate the complexity of the job? Because we made a quick estimate of the time needed to complete it, and did not list the individual stages needed to complete the project.
- Why didn't we do this? Because we were running behind on other projects. We clearly need to review our time estimation and specification procedures.