Posts Tagged ‘quality technique’

Does Asking Why Make You Smarter?

Perhaps not but asking why five times in a row is a simple and proven technique for getting to the root cause of a problem or issue.  And getting to the root cause  greatly improves your odds of  finding good solutions.

The technique known as the five-whys was originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda, often called the father of the industrial revolution in Japan.   Let’s assume for example that a customer order is not shipped from the dock on time. Here is how the technique works:

  • Why1: Why did the shipment not leave the dock on time?
    • The order was not completed before the last truck left
  • Why2: What the order not complete?
    • The automated assembler on line 3 broke down
  • Why3: Why did the automated assembler break down?
    • We failed to complete the maintenance schedule and the the control froze
  • Why4: Why did we fail to complete maintenance?
    • Frank, a new employee forgot to do it
  • Why5: Why did Frank forget to do it?
    • It was not included in his new employee training

Although a bit simplistic it shows the power of the five-whys technique for driving thinking to the root cause. A problem with a customer order was ultimately caused by a fault in new employee training. Learning such simple techniques is a powerful way to improve cognition and so they will be a frequent topic on the Next Brain Blog.

For a more detailed overview, including some of the short comings of the technique check out How to use the Five WHY approach.

Please  post a comment and share your success with the five-whys or related problem solving techniques.

Source: Image of the Hand.

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Mark Clare - March 19, 2010 at 4:21 am

Categories: Problem Solving, Training   Tags: