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Five Whys

Supplies needed: Post-Its, Sharpie, Whiteboard

Estimated time: 30 min

Best to use when

Five whys should be used to get to the very root of a reasons for a problem. It also shows the relationships between several causes of the problem.

Instructions

  1. Write down a specific problem
  2. Ask the team to individually write down why that is happening.
  3. Form a new problem from the answers the team gave.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 four more times or as much as necessary.
  5. Analyze the results and form relationships between answers.

Example

  • The vehicle will not start. (the problem)
  • Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
  • Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  • Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  • Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  • Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)

Taken from Wikipedia

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