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5 Why's + 6 Universal Questions


WHAT IS IT: The 5 Whys' is a problem-finding technique that aims to uncover the root cause of a situation. 

This simple technique forces the questioner to probe deeper into a statement presented by another. 


  • To help at the problem definition stage to quickly determine the potential root cause of a problem.

  • Simple and easy to learn and apply.​

HOW TO: In teams of two of more:

  • Start with discussing a problem and asking “why”? and “what caused this problem”? The first “why” generally prompts a second, third, fourth and fifth “why”…until the root cause becomes apparent.

  • For example, why has the machine stopped?
    ......A fuse blew because of overload
    ......Why was there an overload?
    ......Not enough lubrication for bearings
    ......Why not enough lubrication?
    ......Pump wasn’t pumping enough
    ......And so on…

  • ......Add in the 6 Uuniversal questions when needed: What? Where? When? How? Why? Who?

  • ​If the “why’s” don’t prompt a fairly quick answer to the “root cause” it means the problem is more complex and may need another technique.

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