The 5-Why’s tool is effective WHEN USED CORRECTLY!

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In ThinkReliability’s April 24 newsletter they had an article which looked at the top 5 criticisms of the 5-Why approach. They are:

  1. Tendency for investigators to stop at symptoms rather than going onto lower level causes
  2. Inability to go beyond the investigator’s current knowledge – cannot find causes that they do not already know
  3. Lack of support to help the investigator ask the right “why” questions
  4. Results are not repeatable – different people using 5 Whys come up with different causes for the same problem
  5. Tendency to isolate a single root cause, whereas each question could elicit many different root causes

In the past I have attended many of ThinkReliability’s webinars on root cause analysis and have been very impressed with their high level of insight.

This particular article definitely struck home. The 5 why’s has often reminded me of an Etch-a-Sketch. You know, spend some time drawing something out. Using both hands raise it above your head and shake it hard. Now do your best to remake what you just made before. Odds are it’s not going to be the same.

In the conclusion of their article it states:

5-Whys is not a complete method, it’s simply a phase of an investigation. 

Read their entire article and you will understand how insight this statement really is. 5-Why’s is not end-all, be-all in root cause analysis.