Five whys is a root cause analysis technique that is commonly used in six sigma, lean, and process improvement. This video shows how to use the five why’s to analyze the root cause of a problem or challenge for a project. Learn how to use the five whys to become an effective project leader.
- You know you have a problem but before you move on to the solution, you need to understand why there's a problem. This is an important part of how successful project leaders define their vision for their projects. In this video, we'll look at using the five whys to analyze a problem at our company, H+ Sport and we'll see how it can move us beyond describing what is happening to understand why it is happening. Let's start by asking what's the problem? Even though the business is growing fairly slowly, H+ Sport is really struggling to keep up with customer orders.
They are spending a lot of money on overtime, losing track of inventory in the distribution center and getting complaints from customers about late shipments. Okay, let's find out why. Let's start with the big issue. Why are we having trouble filling orders? Because our distribution center can't handle the volume of orders but our sales haven't grown that much. What changed? Why can't our distribution center handle the current volume? Well, because we've changed the kinds of orders that we're filling and that has increased the number of shipments.
Why have we changed the orders? Because we've gone from only replenishing in bulk to our stores to also shipping individual items directly to customers. Why did we start shipping more products directly to customers? Because our customers have shifted from buying in stores to buying online. Why are more customers buying online? Because online shopping makes it easy to find what they want and convenient to get it delivered while still getting the best price.
It's a major trend that is disrupting traditional retail supply chains. If you just looked at the symptoms, overtime, lost inventory and late orders, it would have been easy to start working on superficial temporary solutions By asking the five whys, we discovered that the real problem with our distribution center is actually the result of a change in our customer's buying patterns. And if we really want to address that challenge then we need a solution that allows us to better address these new customer expectations.
We use the five whys technique to better define the vision for our project and to clarify that we're focused on a root cause, not on a symptom. Take a few minutes now and think about a problem that you're facing in your own work and try using the five whys for yourself. First, write down the problem then ask yourself why five times and see just how much it can help you understand the root causes of the challenge that you are facing.
- Name who is responsible for approving the resources for the project.
- Recall what the spine of a fishbone diagram represents.
- List characteristics of the environment.
- Identify the tools used for mapping processes.
- Recognize what needs to be captured on the action item list.
- Recall what project metrics should be related to.