Published 31 Jan 2023
What is a 5 Whys Template?
A 5 whys template is a powerful tool used for identifying the root cause of a problem following the 5 whys technique. Teams perform 5 whys root cause analysis using a 5 whys template by stating the problem and asking “why” five times until the root cause is discovered. Solutions are then formulated to prevent the problem from reoccurring.
A 5 whys template helps business teams to identify, analyze, and resolve the root cause of a problem to implement long-term solutions and avoid issue recurrence. It helps follow through on the effectiveness of the solutions and improve employee accountability and productivity. Use this checklist to perform 5 whys analysis with the following steps:
- Clearly define the problem
- Answer why the problem occurred
- Check if the root cause is discovered
- Provide a solution to the root cause of a problem
- Create and assign an action
In this article
- What is the 5 Whys?
- What are the 5 Whys Questions?
- What Should be Included in a 5 Whys Template?
- 5 Whys Analysis Example
- How to Perform an Effective 5 Whys Analysis
- Taking Advantage of a Digital 5 Whys Tool
- Featured 5 Whys Templates
What is the 5 Whys?
The 5 Whys is a problem-solving technique developed by the founder of Toyota Industries Corporation, Sakichi Toyoda. It is used by the company to detect manufacturing flaws and improve the quality of their products and processes. Using a 5 whys template can help in monitoring the effectiveness of countermeasures applied to previous problems.
What are the 5 Whys Questions?
Simply put, the 5 whys questions are literal questions of “Why?” asked 5 times until the root cause of an issue is finally realized. Here’s an example of 5 whys questions:
- Why are we unable to replace all the old vehicles like we planned for this year?
- Because we didn’t expect vehicle prices to go this high.
- Why are car prices so high?
- Because car dealers are low on inventory right now.
- Why are car dealers’ inventories low right now?
- There is a decrease in production by car manufacturers around the world.
- Why are car manufacturers experiencing low production right now?
- There is a global shortage of chips, also called microchips or semiconductors, a crucial component of vehicles and electronic devices.
- Why is there a shortage of chips for cars?
- As with almost all industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, chip manufacturers had to close their factories. By the time they resumed operations, there is such a great demand for mobile and electronic devices for people in their homes that manufacturers allocated chip production to address this demand.
What Should be Included in a 5 Whys Template?
To help drill down the root cause of a problem using the 5 Whys technique, it is practical to use a pre-existing template that could help document all the details involved in the endeavor. A 5 Whys template can include:
- The definition of the problem
- The reason why it occurred
- The confirmation if it’s the root cause
- The solution to the problem
- Completion (additional suggestions & signature of team manager)
5 Whys Analysis Example
In this 5 whys RCA example, you will see how the 5 whys questions are used to unravel an issue and come up with a solution to the problem.
- Problem: “There is a significant decline in the revenue of our company.” – Why?
“Most of our stores experience stock loss.” – Why?
“Data from inventory reports are overlooked.” – Why?
“The turnaround of reports is slow.” – Why?
“It is tedious to complete paperwork.” – Why?
- Root Cause: Inventory audits using pen and paper are inefficient.
- Solution: Use a digital inspection app to streamline inventory audits and reporting.
How to Perform an Effective 5 Whys Analysis
Using the 5 whys as a root-cause analysis method may be simple, but it won’t be effective if participants overlook its baseline principles. Here are 3 ways team managers can best facilitate an effective 5 whys analysis, especially when implementing kaizen in the workplace:
Step #1: Have a clearly defined problem
Teams often struggle to determine the root cause because they fail to agree on the problem. Team managers should gather their teams and assist in establishing the problem based on current knowledge. It is crucial for 5 whys participants to refrain from blaming people and jumping to conclusions.
5 Whys Analysis Step #1 Example:
✖ Our finance department is incompetent.
✔ Problem: There is a significant decline in the revenue of our company.
Step #2: Know when to stop
5 whys participants should pay attention to the logic of the cause-and-effect relationship. Otherwise, they might keep on coming back to the problem or conclude before they arrive at the root cause. Team managers should train their teams on how to distinguish causes from symptoms. As a rule of thumb, teams should not go further when responses become illogical.
5 Whys Analysis Step #2 Example:
✔ The turnaround of reports is slow. – Why?
✔ It is tedious to complete paperwork. – Why?
✔ Root Cause: Inventory audits using pen and paper are inefficient. – Why?
✖ The inventory checklist contains numerous details. – Why?
✖ We order, store and display a lot of products. – Why?
✖ It is necessary for our business. – Why?
Step #3: Delegate responsibility to the team
Teams usually encounter the same problems when they neglect following through on the effectiveness of their solutions. To efficiently monitor the implementation of solutions, team managers should delegate responsibilities to their team members. When each member takes action, teams foster an atmosphere of trust and increase accountability.
5 Whys Analysis Step #3 Example:
Solution: Use a digital inspection app to streamline inventory audits and reporting.
✔ Team member 1: Look for digital inspection apps online.
✔ Team member 2: Invite process manager to the next meeting.
✔ Team member 3: Remind each team member for the next meeting.
Taking Advantage of a Digital 5 Whys Tool
Team managers should maximize mobile technology to ensure collaboration and accountability when using a 5 whys template. SafetyCulture (formerly iAuditor) can be used as a 5 whys software to help business teams improve problem-solving and brainstorming experiences by:
Assign and complete actions
As soon as your team has drilled down to the root cause of a problem, you can create an action and its assignee will receive a notification containing the task information, due date, and priority. When a team member completes or changes the status of an action, the team manager will also receive a notification. Easily track the implementation of solutions and the performance of your team using your smartphone or tablet.
Create and customize your own templates
Teams can download the featured 5 whys template and customize it to suit their business needs. Using SafetyCulture’s web platform, team managers can easily build their own templates and include their business logo and other relevant details. Also, you can choose from over 99,000 free templates in SafetyCulture’s public library.
View and share reports in real-time
The moment your team members complete a 5 whys template, a shareable report is instantly generated. Team managers can get the information to the right people with the tap of a finger. For future reference, teams can easily access completed 5 whys templates from their mobile devices. All data is automatically saved and stored in the cloud.
Featured 5 Whys Templates
The 5 Whys Analysis is a simple root-cause analysis method usually practiced by sales and marketing teams. Using this digital 5 whys analysis template can help teams to effectively identify a 3-legged root cause of a problem—how the defect was produced, why the problem was not detected and why the possibility for failure existed.
A 5 whys form template is used by business teams to drill down to the root cause of a problem using the 5 Whys technique. This template has been designed to make it easier for teams to ask and answer the question, "Why did this problem occur?" 5 times to discover the root cause. Take or attach relevant photos with the use of this template and complete this digitized 5 whys form with electronic signatures.
The 5 whys root cause analysis template or 5 why rca template is used to analyze recurring problems and help eliminate the main cause of it. It aids cross-functional teams of subject matter experts to construct a good problem statement, gather relevant data, identify the root cause, and implement long-term solutions.