5-Why Analysis

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5-Why Analysis 


This tool is as simple as the name suggests, and is where you must ask yourself ‘Why’ 5 times consecutively in order to find out why something is occurring or behaving that way. This tool works at continuously improving the organisations processes, as it does not just stop after half of the solution has been found, and rather, will keep digging deeper until the root cause is established.

By doing this, you will slowly but surely be able to peel away the layers to a problem, eventually finding the root-cause of it. More often than not, the supposed answer to your question will actually lead to asking another question rather than the final solution.



Let’s use the example of customer satisfaction being low around the products being delivered. The 5-why analysis may look a little something like:

  1. “Why are the products shipped not meeting satisfactions?”
  • Because they are taking longer to get there than when initially said
  1. “Why are they taking longer to get there than initially said?”
  • Because there is a new team of casuals in the dispatch department who haven’t had adequate training
  1. “Why have they not had adequate training?”
  • Because the head of this department is currently on annual leave, meaning they have been trained by a step-in employee

As you can see, a root-cause has been found, which was down to a training issue. Now that the organisation is aware of this, they can allocate some extra time to this training and implement steps that will allow them to send products on time.

Don’t get too caught up on the name, 5 Why’s. ‘Why’ may only need to be asked 2 times in order to find out the root-cause of a problem, or conversely, it may need to be asked 15 times.  This will depend on the length and scope of the process you are investigating and how many people are involved with it.


This tool should have more of a focus on processes, rather than people. Uncovering problems with processes rather than people will mean you have the ability to change a whole aspect of the organisation rather than an individual. In regards to the example above, the uncovered result could be that training procedures need to be written up so that if someone has to step in and train others, they will be able to effectively do this without much guidance.