Episode 111: The What and How of the 5 Whys Process (Root Cause Analysis)

Anyone with kids can appreciate the effectiveness of asking why over and over again until the response is “Because I said so” or “Because God made it that way.” Well in business, it turns out asking why 5 times, leads to a great root cause analysis method.

And it applies to more than just troubleshooting manufacturing issues at a Toyota robotics plant (where it originated), it can help you identify issues in your business, hone in on customer persona marketing messages, and even identify major constraints in your day to day life.

In this episode, I break down the 5 whys process, what is it and how to use it.

Topics Discussed (Time Stamped)

03:24 The 5 Whys
06:41 How Toyota came up with 5 Whys
10:40 Why it’s called the 5 Whys
13:00 On inviting anyone affected by the issue
14:12 Using remote communication technology
14:35 Picking a facilitator
15:53 Asking Why 5 times
16:37 What he learned from asking why 5 times
17:28 Realizing that sometimes there can be more than one root cause
19:02 Signing responsibility for the solution
21:52 Principle can be applied on the micro or macro level

Quotes Worth Sharing

04:00 “As an entrepreneur we are master fire fighters.”

18:29 “A good leader is going to be a good facilitator in that, it can’t be somebody just out of the blue who comes in and doesn’t have any clue.”

Resources Mentioned


Thanks for listening and checking out the show notes,  any feedback, comments, or questions, send me an email at [email protected]

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