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How to Use Our 5 Why Template to Analyze a Problem

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How to Use Our 5 Why Template to Analyze a Problem

Chalmer’s St. Consulting’s free 5 why template is a valuable tool for problem analysis that allows people to identify the root causes of a problem by asking “why” five times. This method encourages teams to dig deep and think beyond surface issues. It can help you understand and analyze the causes behind difficult problems. By breaking down a problem into its components and understanding why each of those parts is causing issues, it is easier to find practical solutions. The template can also be used in team settings to help foster collaboration and problem-solving among members with different perspectives. 

How to Use the 5 Why Template in Problem Analysis

The following are step-by-step instructions:

  1. Identify the problem: The first step in using the 5 why technique is to identify and clearly define the problem that needs to be analyzed. This should include a description of what is happening,  any associated symptoms, and relevant details. 
  2. Ask why: Once you have identified the problem, ask “why” questions to explore its underlying causes.
  3. Diagram your findings: As you ask “why” questions and uncover root causes, drawing up a diagram of your results can be helpful. This helps you visualize the relationships between different factors, identifying any possible cause-and-effect patterns.
  4. Test solutions: Once you have identified the root causes, it’s time to start thinking about possible solutions. Choose one or more options and test them to see if they solve the problem effectively.
  5. Evaluate: After testing a solution, evaluate it carefully to determine whether it has successfully resolved the issue. If not, revisit your diagram to identify other causes that must be addressed.

The following problem demonstrates how The 5 Why Template is used to analyze the issue: 

Example Problem: A customer has called to report that a product they purchased from a business is malfunctioning.

The first step is to ask, “Why did the product malfunction?” This can be followed by asking “Why?” four more times to drill deeper into the problem.

The first Why question usually relates to the immediate cause of a problem, such as a user error or manufacturing defect. The subsequent questions might uncover design, materials, process, or training issues.

For example:

  • Why did the product malfunction? – The customer reported that it “stopped working.”
  • Why did it stop working? – The product was damaged in transit.
  • Why was it damaged in transit? – It lacked adequate packaging for protection.
  • Why was there inadequate packaging? – The business needed to follow its guidelines for shipping products.
  • Why did the business fail to follow its guidelines? – They needed to be sufficiently trained in proper packing procedures.

By asking a series of Why questions, the root cause of the problem is identified as a lack of training. This allows the business to take corrective action by providing better training and instruction on how to package products for shipping properly.

Click HERE to get this free 5 Why tool.

5 Why template

Tips for using the 5 Why template effectively

The following are example questions to ask while using the 5 Why template:

  • Why is this happening?
  • Why is the problem occurring?
  • Why did it happen this way?
  • Why was the problem not addressed earlier?
  • Why does the issue keep reoccurring?
  • What can be done to prevent the problem from happening again?
  • What steps must be taken to resolve the issue quickly and effectively?
  • Are there any long-term solutions that could help address this issue more permanently?
  • What are the potential risks associated with this problem?
  • How can we work together to ensure that this issue does not happen again in the future?
  • Are there any gaps or weaknesses in our current system that need to be addressed to prevent further issues from arising?
  • What measures can be taken to guarantee a successful resolution?

It is important to involve stakeholders in the problem analysis process. Their opinions can help you come up with solutions to the problem. 

Common Mistakes to Avoid Using the 5 Why Template

  • Failing to correctly consider and analyze all possible angles or sources of a problem 
  • Failing to investigate of underlying issues that may be driving a situation 
  • Failing to document findings as they are discovered 
  • Over-simplifying complex situations 
  • Taking too much time on analysis instead of moving toward a solution

Once the root cause of a problem is identified, an effective solution must be implemented to ensure the issue is addressed in its entirety. It is important to remember that simply identifying the source of a problem does not guarantee a resolution. 

An action plan must be created to tackle the issue effectively. This may include changing procedures and processes, introducing new technologies or methods of working, increasing training or communication initiatives, and resource allocation.

Start Getting to the Root of Problems Now

Are you struggling to overcome persistent problems within your organization? Are you tired of simply putting out fires instead of finding long-term solutions? Don’t let recurring issues hold your organization back any longer. Register for FREE access to our 5 Why tool. This online template takes your problem solving to the next level.

Need additional support? Contact Chalmer’s St. Consulting today and let us help you implement effective problem-solving strategies that will drive your business forward.