5 Whys is an analysis tool that helps peel off the surface symptoms and find out the real problem. Root causes are not apparent until they become problems. So, to find the actual culprit, Leigh Espy discusses 5 Whys, an analysis tool to solve your problems.
5 Whys: Benefits, Steps & an Example
5 Whys has several benefits. It is easy to implement, does not need high-tech software, and increases team coordination. Since this is a teamwork, you also get to analyze from various angles. Following are the steps to implement 5 Whys effortlessly:
- Explaining the Procedure: Explain to your team about the problem. Ensure they understand that it is not about blaming each other. The focus is primarily on getting to the root of the problem.
- Finding the Cause: If everyone is on the same page, it becomes easier to find out the problem with 5 Whys. Write down the problems for better visibility.
- The Reason for the Problem: Ask around the team to know why the problem has occurred as part of the 5 Whys exercise.
- Ask Again: Ask four more times until everyone has a commonality in their answers. If you are unable to find the real cause, do the exercise twice or thrice.
- The Final Solution: After identifying the root problem, discuss the solution.
The author provides an example from her book Bad Meetings Happen to Good People: How to Run Meetings That Are Effective, Focused, and Produce Results.
The problem is that you have not created or delivered an executive report to the VP. The steps will be as below:
- Explain to the team how the VP did not get last month’s executive report. She was unable to provide any satisfactory answers to the questions in the monthly VP meeting. There were delays in the information she wanted. Also, the team had to rush to provide the report.
- The problem was the team missed the deadline for the executive report.
- On asking “Why,” the primary answer was nobody knew about the deadline.
- On asking “Why” four more times, the team concluded that the individual to deliver the report was on vacation. Nobody was allotted to work on the report on the individual’s behalf.
- The solution is to train someone that can act as a substitute when the reporter is not around.
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