Six Sigma Analysis Tool: Performing 5 Whys Analysis

Analysis MethodSometimes, tools break and processes fail. In these situations, it is crucial to identify the root cause of a problem and ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Six Sigma provides a range of techniques to determine the root cause of a problem, the most common being the 5 Whys Analysis. As its name suggests, this process gets to the root cause of the problem by asking why five times at most.

Businesses that use the 5 Whys Analysis method benefit from the simplicity of the process as it rarely requires any form of data collection and does not require statistical analysis, shares.

1. Invite Anyone Affected by the Problem

After identifying the problem, invite the participants affected by the problem for a meeting. A leader will run the meeting and take notes to document relevant points that arise from the discussion.

2. Ask “Why?” 5 Times

Everyone in the meeting will dig at least five levels deep into the problem by asking why. It usually takes at least five “Whys?” to get to the root cause.

Here is a sample problem: The client refuses to pay for the delivered printed material.

Why? The material arrived late.

Why? The printing job took longer than expected.

Why? The printer ran out of ink.

Why? A large, last-minute job order consumed all the ink.

Why? There’s not enough ink in stock and getting the next order takes a while.

When all the possibilities of “Why?” have been exhausted, this means that the root of the problem has been identified. In this case, the overarching issue is that it takes a long time to receive the next batch of ink.

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3. Assign Responsibility for Solutions

Everyone must come up with a corrective action plan to address the root cause of the problem. Once everyone agrees on the best solution, the leader will delegate the responsibility to all the participants in the discussion.

4. Implement Corrective Action

All participants will take part in implementing the chosen solution. Everyone must document the results and disseminate them to all concerned.

These four steps make up the 5 Whys Analysis. Used effectively, the method could identify overarching problems that could, when resolved, completely rid businesses of various symptom-problems plaguing their operation.