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The 5 Whys (Audio Term & Part 2)

Continuous Improvement Audio Terms

See some of our related 5 Whys training components…

How does using the 5 Whys benefit you? Quite simply, it removes frustration. Most employees can give countless examples of problems that just won’t go away—despite repeated attempts to address them. Many of these difficulties can be traced back to improvement efforts that target symptoms, rather than the root cause. When that happens, the issue goes away for a little while, but comes back, seemingly stronger than ever, and reduces job satisfaction in the process. Go after the root cause to prevent that frustration.

The purpose of the 5 Whys is to conserve resources, which will likely make your life easier and help you hit your targets. The real benefit? You can quickly train your team to put the tool to use. Because of its simplicity, as well as the ‘Aha!’ moment that comes with finding the real root cause, it is one of the easiest tools to get your team using on their own. And they will not only use it, they will taste success at making things better. This tool is great at planting the seed of continuous improvement.

  • Use the 5 Whys to get to the root cause.
  • Correcting a symptom, instead of the real problem, wastes resources.
  • Correcting a root cause gets rid of problems permanently, improving satisfaction.
  • Watch out for bias.
  • Spend time finding the right person to answer your questions.
  • Be careful not to rely only on the 5 Whys for critical problems.

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Pick a nagging problem that you are facing in your area, and do a 5 whys analysis on it. See if the result matches what you initially thought it might be. Once you identify a problem and a root cause, obviously, you will want to fix it. The thing to watch for, though, is to see if going after the root cause finally eliminates the problem for good.

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