What Is The Five Whys Analysis?

Sometimes even the best-laid plans can fall apart. They could run into an unexpected technical glitch or an unanticipated policy change.

What do you then do? One way out is to ask ‘why’.  Getting to the root of a problem is the first step to resolving it. One of the more effective ways of doing it is to use a simple process: the five whys.

The five whys analysis was developed in the 1930s by Japanese industrialist and founder of the automobile company Toyota, Sakichi Toyoda. He observed that by simply asking five whys one can get to the root cause of the problem.

This process of investigation helps you identify which layer of the process needs to be revised, corrected, rethought, or rebuilt.

The five whys method has emerged as an effective problem-solving method in companies across the world.

The five whys analysis is as easy as it sounds. It is the process of evaluating a problem by asking five whys or the question ‘why’ five times. The 5Y or 5 whys analysis goes deep into the core issue so that you can tackle it properly.

The five whys technique can also help in team building. The five whys analysis ensures that every member of the organization has an idea about the issue. Once the issue is identified and brought down to the core by five whys, every team member can come up with creative solutions.

After the five whys, you move to the question ‘how’. Or how can it be fixed? The 5Y or five whys analysis model ensures that the issues are not just dealt with on a surface level but the root cause is treated so that it doesn’t recur.

Examples Of Five Whys

As you’ve already learned, the five whys analysis involves asking five whys for an in-depth understanding of the problem. Let’s look at a 5Y or five whys example to understand the process in detail.

The Problem: An Organization Fails To Deliver A Project On Time:

Let’s dig deeper by asking five whys.

1. Why didn’t they deliver the project on time?

Because minor bugs were not fixed until the deadline.

2. Why were the bugs not fixed on the agreed time?

Because the engineers were still working on some newly added features.

3. Why were the engineers still working on the newly added features?

Because one of the new engineers wasn’t aware of the standard procedures.

4. Why was the new engineer unaware of the standard procedures?

Because they were not initiated or trained properly.

5. Why was he not initiated or trained properly?

Because the boss believes that new engineers do not require in-depth training. They believe that workers should be learning as they are working.

From the above five whys example, it’s clear that the boss should pay more attention to training new employees. By simply asking five whys or 5Y questions, you can pinpoint the exact step that needs to be fixed. Asking such five whys in any situation will yield solid answers.

You don’t need to be lumbered with problems anymore. Head to Harappa Education’s Creating Solutions course which shows you the power of the five whys analysis. It teaches you how to solve problems with five whys examples. By asking five whys, you can work towards efficient problem-solving by getting to the root cause of the problem. Once you’ve mastered the five whys analysis, you will be on course to solve any problem. At work and in life in general.


Explore topics such as Problem SolvingWhat are Values & the Pareto Analysis from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your skills.

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