Five Whys make problem-solving easier

Five Whys make problem-solving easier

Five Whys make problem-solving easier

“Progress cannot be generated when we are satisfied with existing situations.”

-Taiichi Ohno, industrial engineer & businessperson


With luck and nurturing, we all learn problem-solving skills through childhood game-play. Finding the round peg that fits the round hole and collaborating with friends to build a giant Lego® tower are two ways children learn the creative thinking that is the heart of all problem-solving.

As adults in the workplace, effective problem-solving can increase efficiency, foster innovation, and fuel business growth. But how can we be better at workplace problem-solving, especially when working across teams and multiple time zones?

I recently stumbled upon a really easy solution. Root cause analysis, also called the Five Whys, was developed by Taiichi Ohno, a production engineer at Toyota who rose to become vice president in 1975. Here is how it works: when faced with a problem, the knowledgeable parties come together and ask “why” five times. When you limit the answers to just facts, the problem’s root cause exposes itself organically.

The Five Whys technique helps identify and resolve inefficiencies, improve quality, and foster a culture of continuous improvement. The technique focuses on uncovering the fundamental cause of a problem rather than merely addressing its symptoms, so you can prevent it in the future. It promotes deeper understanding, teamwork, and critical analysis through collective brainstorming. And it is simple.

At nFusion, we employ the Five Whys, elevating issues to the surface and creating space for discussion and team problem-solving. By ensuring that each answer is based on factual data, the Five Whys gives us a clear path to effective and sustainable solutions, helping us maintain seamless collaboration across all teams, no matter where we are located.