Methods > Ideate > 5 “Whys"

5 “Whys”

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Purpose

  • Repeatedly asking “why?” in order to get to the root cause of the problem with the goal of thinking differently.
  • Challenges your preconceptions and refocus on the right problem statement.

Outcome

  • Root cause analysis was originally a Toyota manufacturing technique used to get to a deeper understanding of problems faced in product development.
  • Root cause analysis is great at making sure you are solving the right problem first.

Time

1 hour

Participants

1 - 6 people

Difficulty

Low

Materials

none

Detailed steps

The concept is basic in its setup and easy to implement. When you face an problem, don’t accept the first statement of the problem that comes to mind but challenge it by asking “why” 5 times. This is also called abstraction laddering.

1. DEFINE
Identify an initial problem statement for review.

2. MAKE
Create a worksheet with 5 blank above each other. Put your problem statement at the bottom.

3. ASK
Invite everyone, or do it alone, to think about the first problem statement and ask Why is that a problem? Do this 5 times.