5 Whys Template

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5 Whys Template

What is the template?

The 5-Whys template is used to identify the key cause or most fundamental factor of a particular problem or subject.

The technique was developed by inventor Sakichi Toyoda, “The King of Japanese Inventors,” whose son later established the Toyota Motor Corporation.

How do you use it?

The following steps will help you get started using the 5-Whys template.

Step 1: Gather the team

Pull together people who are familiar with the specifics of the problem and/or process. Assign someone the role of facilitator, this person will work to keep the team focused, and they will document the responses throughout the session.

Step 2: Initial problem statement

As a group, discuss the problem and write a brief, clear problem statement that everyone can agree upon.

Step 3: Asking why

For the first of your 5 Whys, ask the team why the problem is occurring. When thinking through answers, focus on the ones that are grounded in fact. The response must be things that have actually happened, not guesses at what might have happened. Continue this process until you reach the end that is defined by your team.

Step 4: Final why

After going through a series of why questions, the team should get to the root cause of the problem. When the team feels they can go no further the needed counter-process change should become clear.

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