5 Why Technique Of Problem Solving

In the example above, the failure of the feeding equipment could also be caused by incorrect weight readings from the salt feed bin to the process controller or failure of the process controller as well.

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The technique is suited for simple problem solving, but larger more complex issues should be handled with a more thorough technique although the 5 whys can initially be used to generate potential causes of some problems and to stimulate the thought process.

In the following example of a production issue the 5 why problem solving technique is appropriate to use due to the most likely cause of the problem needs to be found quickly and is likely to not require a complex fault finding process.

When an issue occurs with a manufacturing machine the solution is not found by looking at some historical data or manual.

A deduction is made by understanding the problem, asking questions to people working there, inspecting and then making a decision.

However, nausea is just a ‘symptom’ of the problem and treating it does not mean we treat the real cause of nausea.

Investigations by the doctor reveal that he has a stomach ache as well and further diagnosis confirms that Jack is ‘actually’ suffering from a stomach infection.The 5 Whys technique was originally invented by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Industries Co. However, the credit of bringing the 5 Whys to mainstream implementation goes to Taiichi Ohno, pioneer of the Toyota Production System.According to Toyota company website: Whenever a problem cropped up, Taiichi Ohno encouraged his staff to explore problems first-hand until the root causes were found.Production Problem Example: A production process in the food manufacturing sector which produces potato chips in a continuous production line and has a production issue where during testing of production samples the potato chips salt levels are too high consistently in all samples taken over the last hour.A solution for this issue must be found promptly as due to being food manufacturing all production out of spec is not able to be sold. Application of the 5 Why problem solving Technique to aid production problem analysis In the example above we have reached a possible root cause for the production problem by asking Why?“Observe the production floor without preconceptions,” he would advise.“Ask ‘why’ five times about every matter.” Toyota believes in ‘go see and clarify’ approach.Research has shown it usually takes an average of five times to reach the actual root cause.The 5 Whys technique is sometimes criticised as being too simplistic and can at times lead to incorrect conclusions on the root cause of a problem.Continuous implementation of practices like 5 Whys has made Toyota the world’s largest automaker.One of the main reason why 5 Whys is so popular as a root cause analysis technique is its simplicity. There are no fancy steps no acronyms and there is no need for any memorization.


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