A young child asks, “Why do I have to eat my vegetables?” You respond, “Because they’re good for you.” The child then asks, “Why are they good for you?” You say, “They make your body stronger.” The child then persists, “Why? … But why? … But why?” While that can be annoying, an adult version of this conversation, known as the 5 whys for root cause analysis and problem solving, can be extremely helpful in identifying and correcting problems in your business.
How to Use the 5 Whys for Root Cause Analysis and Problem Solving
The 5 whys for root cause analysis and problem solving is a strategic method of getting to the cause of a problem, rather than sticking a Band-Aid on it and calling it a day. Instead of looking only at the surface of a problem – the top layer, if you will – you peel away the layers until you get to the core. Keep asking “why” until you get to the center, and don’t be surprised if there are more or fewer than “five” whys.
Utilizing the 5 Whys Method can Benefit your Business
As stated by Jeff Hajek, author of “Whaddaya Mean I Gotta Be Lean,” the 5 whys concept is easy to teach, easy to use, introduces people to problem solving methods, and prevents Band-Aid solutions.
Many times, getting to the root cause of one problem can unveil a different but related problem. When that happens, proceed to get to the root of that problem as well, and so on. All of this is good because it gives you the chance to correct a number of problems once and for all.
As you employ the method, be sure to make notes of the problems and their solutions.
Keep in mind, however, that the 5 whys method is more effective for relatively simple problems. Trying to use this technique for a broader, more complicated problem can be overwhelming.
Get Your Team on Board
Some simple problems can be solved by one person. In some cases, however, you might need to brainstorm with your coworkers, supervisors or employees to get to the root cause of the problem.
There are many ways to motivate your team. Here are a few.
• Make every job the most important job, rather than making employees feel like they are on a lower step of the ladder.
• Offer daily reminders of your mission. Pep talks can go a long way.
• Encourage people to be creative, especially when it comes to problem solving. If they feel like they are a part of something, they will care more.
Reach Out to Us for More Information
If you want more information about how to use the 5 whys for root cause analysis and problem solving, feel free to reach out to us through our Trident QMS website or by phone at 520-314-4343. We would be happy to answer your questions or offer suggestions.