Have you heard of the 5 Whys tool? Whether yes or no, we will share with you what the 5 Whys are and how to use this tool in your company. Stay with us until the end and happy reading!
Also known as 5-Why, the 5 Whys tool is a quality methodology for identifying root causes of problems in a simple way. It was created in the 1930s in Japan by Sakichi Toyoda, an executive at Toyota known as the father of the Japanese industrial revolution.
It is a solution that can contribute to a company achieving its objectives quickly, such as increasing efficiency and reducing costs.
Due to its effectiveness, the 5 Whys methodology is among the best tools for identifying root causes. This technique has also become popular for its simplicity, as it questions something (a process, technique, etc.) with the aim of quickly identifying the causative agent of the problem.
The 5 Whys solution functions as a method to thoroughly evaluate each set of problems, which allows for the creation of a precise action plan to resolve the situation. In this sense, it acts as an identifying agent that focuses on the analysis of causes and effects.
The root cause analysis, done through the 5 Whys methodology, reveals the true root cause of the problem, which is the factor that led to the occurrence of the error or set of errors.
Finding the root cause is essential to solve a problem, as the elimination or resolution of this cause is the only factor that can prevent the problem from recurring. Consequently, it contributes to making an organization more efficient and productive.
When to use the 5 Whys? Practical example
The 5 Whys tool has broad applicability and can be used for any non-conformity within an organization.
Therefore, the versatility of this methodology allows it to be used whenever a problem arises, regardless of its cause.
However, in some cases, it may require “more” or “less” “whys” to arrive at the root cause of the problem. In complex problems, finding the cause may take longer. In simple situations, the answers are easier to identify.
Below is a practical example:
Problem: There have been delays in delivering demands in recent months.
- Why were there delays in deliveries? Answer: After investigation, it was found that the delay in the process is in department X, which is taking longer than planned to complete its part, compromising operations.
- Why did the team in department X delay their demands? Answer: The team was overloaded and unable to meet deadlines.
- Why was the team overloaded? Answer: There was a 25% increase in sales in recent months.
- Why did the increase in sales affect the delivery quality of this department? Answer: Because all employees were already working at their maximum capacity before the increase in sales, and now the number of people is not enough to handle all demands in a timely manner.
In the example presented, it was possible to arrive at the root cause of the problem in 4 whys, which is the team’s overload, as they are working with fewer members than necessary. In this case, the manager can consider hiring more professionals to complete the team, for example.
The 5 Whys promote continuous improvement of processes through effective management. Do you already use this tool in your company?