13160: About Five WHYs (The Outcome Frame That Solves Problems)

Hey there, hero!

When trying to understand a problem or challenge, while getting to the root of the problem and then on to the solution, we often ask “Why is this happening?”

Great question. It’s worth getting an answer, and one way to do that is to use a process that some call “about five WHYs” – asking “why?” over and over.

Begin with the general question and describe what’s happening, and then ask the question again and again, five or so times, looking for more details, drilling deeper to get more specific.

And hopefully, your drilling will get to the root cause, and eventually, the solution.

Ever use this process? Is it new to you? Getting details a challenge? Let me know in the comments below.


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  1. Amazing that you just posted this, because I just heard about the Five Whys in this podcast from NPR’s Life Kit on how to make resolutions you can keep. They talk about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound) and under Relevant they talk about using the Five Whys to get to your values, so that your goals are based in your values. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/how-to-make-resolutions-youll-keep/id1461493560?i=1000639825309

  2. When I was a restaurant manager (and a retail manager, theatre manager, etc.) I learned to do this questioning because I wanted to know how things worked and what I could do to either solve the problem myself or help the maintenance person help me. I hate wasting someone’s time. Hearing your take on it is a great reminder for me. Thank you again for helping me to remember what I know.