Free AI Face Swap Online - Realistic Face Changing

Reliable & free AI face swapper for face swap videos, pictures, and GIFs.

Home nav-next Blog nav-next How to Conduct the 5 Whys Technique for Root Cause Analysis?

How to Conduct the 5 Whys Technique for Root Cause Analysis?

Want to solve problems quickly and effectively? Discover the 5 Whys technique to find the root cause of any issue and prevent it from happening again.

Whether you're a manager dealing with team issues, a business owner trying to improve operational efficiency, or just someone trying to make sense of recurring problems, you've likely sought ways to get to the root cause of these challenges. The '5 Whys' technique is a powerful tool that you may have come across. 

By asking 'why' multiple times, this technique enables users to dig beneath the surface of problems and uncover their underlying causes. In this article, we will comprehensively overview the 5 Whys technique. So that you can understand how to use the 5 whys technique for root cause analysis. 

5 Whys

Table of Contents
What is 5 Whys Technique?
Benefits and Limitations of the 5Y Analysis
When to Use the Five Whys Analysis?
How to Use 5 Whys? A Step-by-Step Guide
Template and 2 Examples of the 5 Whys Technique
How to Document 5 Whys Easily?

What is 5 Whys Technique?

The 5 Whys technique is a problem-solving tool aimed at identifying an issue's root cause. The fundamental premise is to ask 'why' five times, where each question delves deeper into the cause of the problem. It was developed by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, and it is widely used in lean manufacturing, lean construction, Six Sigma, and other quality improvement methodologies.

The number five isn't strict but is generally a sufficient number of iterations to reach the root cause. This iterative interrogative technique is designed to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem, thereby leading to the ultimate source of the issue. For instance, if a machine stopped working, you would ask why it stopped. Identifying the root cause would lead to the next question, and so on.

Benefits and Limitations of the 5Y Analysis

Benefits of Five Whys:

Simple and easy to conduct

The 5Y analysis does not require any statistical analysis or complex tools. All you need is a curious mindset and the willingness to dig deep into the issue. It encourages critical thinking and allows even those not expertly trained in problem-solving to find the root cause of issues.

Gets to root cause quickly

By asking 'why' repeatedly, you're quickly driven beyond the symptoms and into the core of the problem. This process helps eliminate the risk of treating only surface-level issues, providing a long-term resolution rather than a temporary fix.

Proactive and preventive

Identifying and fixing the root cause prevents the problem from recurring. This proactive approach can lead to improved processes and systems within your organization.

Flexible and adaptable

The 5 Whys can be applied to any problem regardless of its complexity. It can be used in a variety of fields, from business to personal issues.

Logical and rigorous

The technique requires users to follow a logical path of thought, avoiding assumptions and quick conclusions that could be misleading.


Limitations of Five Whys:

It can be subjective and biased.

The answers to the 'whys' can vary based on who is asking the questions and the perspective they are taking. It's also possible to guide the outcome toward a preconceived conclusion.

Maybe oversimplified and linear

Not all problems have a single root cause; a combination of issues causes some. The 5 Whys six sigma assumes a linear cause-effect relationship which is only sometimes accurate in complex scenarios.

When to Use the Five Whys Analysis?

It is particularly useful when problems are straightforward or moderately complex and root causes are single or limited. This technique lends itself well to situations where quick, practical solutions are needed without the necessity of extensive analysis or resources.

For instance, if a machine malfunctions in a manufacturing environment, the 5 Whys lean analysis can quickly pinpoint the issue. When a customer's complaint follows a common pattern, using the Five Whys can identify the source of the problem and facilitate efficient resolution.

What’s the Perfect Timing and Usage Scenario for the 5 Whys Analysis?

The 5 Whys analysis is best applied immediately after identifying a problem. Addressing the issue early prevents its recurrence and mitigates potential impacts. It could be more effective with difficulties that are intricate or have multiple interdependent factors. It could be better for problems that need significant stakeholder input or situations that are too volatile or sensitive. In these cases, a more comprehensive and nuanced approach might be necessary.

How to Use 5 Whys? A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Use 5 Whys Technique

Step 1: Assemble a team

Gather individuals who understand the problem and the processes involved. The team should ideally include people with different roles and perspectives to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the issue. Including decision-makers who can drive action based on the findings is also crucial.

Step 2: Define the problem clearly and concisely

State it as clearly as possible, ensuring everyone on the team understands it. Being specific about the problem's nature, location, and when it occurred can help focus the analysis and make it more effective.

Step 3: Ask “Why?” and write down the answer

The team leader should ask why the problem occurred and note the answer. It's important to ensure this answer is fact-based and can be tested or measured.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 until you reach the root cause

Now it’s time for the 5 Whys root cause analysis. Continue asking why to each answer until you feel that you've reached the root cause of the problem. Remember, it doesn't always have to be five times; you stop when you reach a point where further questioning does not provide additional value.

Step 5: Identify and implement countermeasures

Once the root cause is identified, brainstorm potential solutions that can address this root cause. Once agreed upon, these solutions should be implemented and monitored to ensure they effectively resolve the issue and prevent recurrence.

Template and 2 Examples of the 5 Whys Technique

Here is a 5 Whys template you can use to solve your problem. 

Problem Statement:

Write the problem clearly and concisely


Write the answer 1.

Why 1?

Write the answer 2.

Why 2?

Write the answer 3.

Why 3?

Write the answer 4.

Why 4?

Write the answer 5. This is usually the root cause.

Root Cause:

Verify the root cause by reversing the logic of the answers.


Write the best countermeasure that can prevent the problem from recurring.

5 Whys Example 1 (Single Lane): Customers are unhappy with the product.

☞ Why? - The product does not meet the customer’s expectations.

☞ Why? - The product specifications were not precise.

☞ Why? - The salesperson did not communicate the product specifications to the customer.

☞ Why? - The salesperson was not trained to communicate the product specifications to the customer.

☞ Why? - The sales training program did not cover the product specifications.

Root cause: The sales training should have covered the product specifications.

Countermeasure: Update the sales training program to include the product specifications and train the sales staff accordingly.

5 Whys Example 2: The company's website has a high bounce rate.

☞ Why? - Leaving the website soon after arriving.

☞ Why? - The website takes a long time to load.

☞ Why? - The website's design is heavy, with high-resolution images and complex scripts.

☞ Why? - The web designer prioritized aesthetics over the website's performance.

☞ Why? - The web designer wasn't trained to balance aesthetics with website performance and speed.

Root cause: The web designer wasn't trained to balance aesthetics with website performance and speed.

Countermeasure: Provide training to the web designer on web performance optimization techniques and redesign the website to improve load time.

This illustrates how the 5 Whys technique can help unravel the layers of a problem and identify the root cause. By addressing this root cause, we can prevent the problem from recurring.

How to Document 5 Whys Easily?

To effectively document the 5 Whys technique and make it more efficient, consider using a mind-mapping tool like MioCreate. You can create a mind map from scratch or choose from ready-made templates. Or you can use it to create a 5 Whys mind map from scratch. 


Here's a step-by-step guide on how to use MioCreate to create a 5 Whys mind map and document it:

Step 1: Sign up and use a template or draw your own 5 Whys. 

First, sign up for MioCreate for free to make 5 whys diagrams. Start by selecting a 5 Whys template from MioCreate's library, or create your 5 Whys mind map from scratch. Identify the problem or issue you want to analyze and write it at the center of your mind map.

Step 2: Document it after finishing your session.

For each "Why" question, create branches representing the factors or causes that contribute to the issue. Add sub-branches for each "Why" response, creating a tree-like structure. Use text, icons, and colors to make your mind map visually appealing and easy to understand.

Step 3: Share it with your teams and ask for feedback.

Once you've completed your mind map, save and share it with your team directly for the platform. MioCreate allows you to collaborate and gather feedback from your teammates. They can add comments, suggest additional causes or solutions, and contribute to the analysis.


The 5 Whys technique is a powerful tool for root cause analysis, enabling users to dig beneath the surface of problems and uncover their underlying causes. It is crucial to consider the context and complexity of the problem before using this technique. 

Mind mapping tools like MioCreate online whiteboard can greatly facilitate documenting the 5 Whys technique. By visually representing the relationships between causes and effects, MioCreate enhances clarity, promotes collaboration, and helps you derive deeper insights from your analysis.

Table of Contents