Introduction:

Getting to the bottom of business-related problems and issues can be hard.

That's why Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries, created 5 Whys. It has since become an incredibly popular process, used by the entirety of Toyota and countless other thriving companies.

The best part is that the highly-repeatable 5 Whys process is simple.

You first state the issue/problem you're facing, and then ask 'why?'. Then, you ask 'why?' four more times, but each question of 'why?' is in response to the last answer you gave.

Toyoda found that 'why?' had to be asked 5 times before the root cause is found.

After you sign up to Process Street - which is state-of-the-art BPM software - for free, you can launch checklists from the 5 Whys template to help guide you through the process.

And once you've uncovered the root cause of the issue/problem, you can get approval from higher-ups on the countermeasures you've suggested for tackling the issue/problem.

Why are you waiting around?

Jump in!

Before getting started:

First thing's first: Before getting started with 5 Whys, you'll need to confirm your basic details and state the issue/problem at hand.

Complete the following two tasks so this information is recorded.

Confirm basic details

Confirm basic details (your name and email, and the person you report to's name and email).

Firstly, you'll need to confirm your name and email, as well as the name and email of the person you report to.

By doing this, it'll help the person you report to know who carried out this process, in addition to them being able to easily approve the countermeasures for tackling the issue/problem at hand, thanks to role assignments.

State the issue/problem

State the issue/problem you're facing.

Before asking the question of 'why?' 5 times, you need to state the issue/problem you're facing.

Use the text box below to state the issue/problem.

Questioning & finding the root cause:

Now that you've confirmed your basic details and stated the issue/problem, it's time to undergo the 5 Whys process itself. 

The tasks in this section will help you to do just that.

For an audiovisual explainer on why 5 Whys is both necessary and effective, watch the video below (courtesy of MindTools).

Additionally, check out Process Street's post on 5 Whys and the 5 Whys template here.

Ask the first 'why?'

Ask the first 'why?'.

Underneath this paragraph, you'll see the issue/problem you stated in task #4, thanks to Process Street's variables feature.

Read what you wrote and ask yourself 'why?' - why did the issue/problem happen?

Then, write your answer in the form field.


Issue/problem:

{{form.What_is_the_issue/problem_at_hand?}}

Ask the second 'why?'

Ask the second 'why?'.

Now it's time to ask the second 'why?'. But this time, ask the question in response to the answer you gave for the first 'why?'.

This is because each question of 'why?' in this process is in response to the last answer you gave.

Provide your second answer in the text box below.


Answer to the first 'why?':

{{form.1:_Why?}}

Ask the third 'why?'

Ask the third 'why?'.

Just as you responded to your first 'why?' answer in the previous task, now ask 'why?' in response to your second answer.

Write your third answer in the form field below.


Answer to the second 'why?':

{{form.2:_Why?}}

Ask the fourth 'why?'

Ask the fourth 'why?'.

Ask 'why?' again, but now in response to your third answer.

Jot down your fourth answer in the text box provided below.


Answer to the third 'why?':

{{form.3:_Why?}}

Ask the fifth 'why?'

Ask the fifth 'why?'.

You've nearly come to the end of the questioning phase - ask the final and fifth 'why?' in response to your fourth answer.

Write your fifth answer inside the form field.


Answer to the fourth 'why?':

{{form.4:_Why?}}

Define the root cause of the issue/problem

Define the root cause of the issue/problem.

After asking 'why?' 5 times, you should now have found the root cause of the issue/problem you're facing.

In the text box below, write down what the root cause is.

Moving forward:

The root cause has been found and defined - success!

But it's not time to celebrate just yet. 

So that you don't run into the issue/problem again, you'll have to think of countermeasures to stop the issue/problem from cropping up at all. After all, you want true business efficiency, right?

Suggest countermeasures to tackle the issue/problem

Suggest countermeasures to tackle the issue/problem.

You wouldn't have made it this far in the process if the issue/problem at hand didn't cause you or your colleagues grief.

So that the issue/problem is tackled - not just for the meantime, but for the long-run - think of some countermeasures.

Then, write your suggestions in the 3 form fields below.

If only one countermeasure is needed, write "No other countermeasures needed." in the 2nd and 3rd form field.

Note: If you want to increase or reduce the number of form fields users write countermeasures in, edit the 5 Whys template the checklists are launched from.


Issue/problem:

{{form.What_is_the_issue/problem_at_hand?}}

Root cause of the issue/problem:

{{form.What's_the_root_cause_of_the_issue/problem?}}

Getting approval for the countermeasures:

Now that you've suggested some countermeasures, it's time to get approval on them from the person you report to.

They've already been automatically assigned to the approval task (task 15) via Process Street's role assignments feature, so you don't need to do anything else - unless your countermeasures get rejected, of course.

If they do get rejected, think of other, alternative countermeasures. Then submit them for approval again.

Approval: Countermeasures for tackling the issue/problem

Will be submitted for approval:
  • Suggest countermeasures to tackle the issue/problem
    Will be submitted

Sources:

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