The Importance of the 5 Whys

If you have ever had something go wrong, then you have to fix it. What happens if something similar goes wrong? This means you never got to the root of your original problem. This can waste time and resources because to make a mistake once is a lesson if you make the same mistake twice that is a choice. Choose to learn your lesson the first time and dig deep to reach the true root of your problem; it is as easy as asking “why?” five times.

The 5 why method is a tried and true way of digging past the obvious answers to see what is actual causing your problem. The reason this method works so well is because it requires some deep thought and advanced problem-solving skills which will test your employees on their ability to think both logically and creatively about an issue. The first why is going to scratch the surface of an issue.

Let’s look at it through a hypothetical situation: a grocery store gets their delivery of produce for the week and the majority of the product is rotten.

  1. Why? Well the fruit must have rotted in the transport stage.
  2. Why? It was not properly stored or preserved for transportation.
  3. Why? The fruit arrived at the distributor already ripe and they could not prevent it from rotting even with refrigeration.
  4. Why? The growers harvested the fruit late in the season.
  5. Why? The farm or company does not have enough workers to harvest the fruit in a timely manner.


We have taken an issue and boiled it down past the grocery store, past the delivery, past the distributor, to the source of the product which is the farmers that grew the produce. This is just an example, but it demonstrates the importance of asking “why?” enough times to find a real solution for the problem. This will prevent your employees from repeating the same mistake and that will save you time and money.

Leave a Reply