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The 5 Whys of Lean

When you think about the power behind the five (5) whys process for lean, it’s best to reflect on a conversation with a young child.  The inquisitiveness at that young age when they repeatedly ask “why” in an exhaustive fashion. While believing the first couple of responses should have quelled their constant but “why” and yet it does not, there is delight in the end with successfully helping them find the true answer to their original why.  What is fascinating with this process is that it will drive an understanding of the core why (root cause).

There is a tendency when examining a failure in a business process to stop when the first or second why is answered so we can move onto the next business issue.  The shortcut: stopping at the first or second why does not allow an organization to get to the real why (root cause) and thus does not allow for the creation of a solution that prevents the error from occurring again.

What is the five (5) whys analysis process:

  1. State the specific problem that needs to be addressed
  2. Identify and categorize the possible causes for that problem (the first “why”) and attach any supporting documents
  3. Rate each cause based on the likelihood that it led to the problem
  4. Move forward with the top-rated cause and identify the possible causes for that problem (the second “why”)
  5. Repeat steps 1–4 until the root cause of the problem is identified
  6. Develop an action plan to resolve and mitigate the identified root cause

Why use the five (5) whys process?

  1. Identifies the root cause, not just the symptoms
  2. Allows users to perform an evidence-based analysis
  3. Ultimately eliminates issues in the system for good
  4. Seeks to drive improvements and welcomes change
  5. Builds a culture that embraces progress

The power of the five (5) whys is to poke yoke (error proof) the process where the root cause occurred, and the benefits come in many forms.  The benefits include improved customer experience, process waste eliminated, and employee satisfaction to name a few.  To learn more about lean please contact xSynergy Solutions at info@xsynergysolutions.com

xSynergy Solutions is a full-service business transformation firm located in Centennial, CO. We impact every aspect of your business from marketing to operational strategies.  Learn more at xsynergysolutions.com.