5 Whys Analysis Strategy To Find Root Cause Of The Problem

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Any organization when faced with problem needs to go through various steps as problem solving process- Identify the problem, Identify sources to resolve the problem, Plan the implementation of sources and finally execution. In the whole process first step is most vital as well as critical. If we are not able to identify the root cause of problem the later process has no significance.

Anderson and Peterson in 1996 introduced “5 Whys Analysis”, a tool to find the root cause of the problem. This tool gained popularity when applied to Toyota Production System (1970’s.) as a part of their problem solving strategy. Later Quality improvement model “Six Sigma” also stared using (1981) The 5 Whys Analysis at their analyze phase for existing product or service improvement.

Among various business management strategy tools “5 Whys Analysis” is the most straightforward that doesn’t involve any advanced statistical tools, and in many cases can be completed without a data collection plan. By simply using systematic questionnaire techniques one can identify the root cause of a problem.

Let’s look into one example:

  1. Why is our customer in Mexico, unhappy or not buying regularly? Because of inconsistence batch to batch quality?
  2. Why were we unable to meet the agreed quality specifications? Because at manufacturing stage QC department did not concentrated on finished goods quality specification.
  3. Why did QC and Production people could not establish the specified quality standards? Because raw material composition was not appropriate.
  4. Why did we underestimate the complexity of the job? Because we were over confident that for this customer production process shall be same, as for other customers.
  5. Why didn’t we do this? Because we presume that our company quality standards shall be very well accepted to customer alike others.  We clearly need to review our estimation and specification procedures.

This simple tool just identifies not only why customer is unhappy and frequency of orders is low. Which further supports in analyzing the customer’s expectation from supplier and suppliers standing against those expectations. Once able to define the root cause of customer’s prime problem with product, we can take corrective actions, so that in future, presentation to customer shall be unblemished and chances of success increases.


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