5 Why Analysis

What is a 5 Why Analysis?

The “5 Why Analysis” is a powerful problem-solving technique that helps uncover the root cause of a problem or issue. The process involves repeatedly asking “why” to delve deeper into the underlying causes until we identify the core issue. Thus, we dig beyond the surface-level symptoms. This method also helps prevents treating only the symptoms without addressing the real problem.

How the 5 Why Analysis Works

The approach is straightforward.  Whenever a problem arises, you ask “why” five times. Each time, you will examine the previous answer to uncover the next level of causality. Five is not a fixed number, but it serves as a guideline to encourage thorough exploration. For this reason, the 5 Why Analysis is also called the Why-Why analysis. The goal here is to reach a point where the answer no longer provides valuable insights. Ultimately, the last “why” uncovers the root cause.

Step-by-step process of Why-Why Analysis

  1. Identify the problem statement clearly.
  2. Ask “why” to identify the first-level cause of the problem.
  3. Continue asking “why” to dig deeper into the causes.
  4. Repeat the process until you reach a root cause.
  5. Finally, the team evaluates the last identified cause to determine if it is, indeed, the root cause. If the answer feels more like a symptom or there is a deeper cause, you may need to continue asking “why” until you uncover the root cause.

Applying the 5 Why Analysis: A Practical Example

Let’s look at an example to illustrate how the 5 Why Analysis works. Imagine you work in a company, and a crucial delivery was delayed.

5 Why Analysis

In this case, the absence of a standard operating procedure for refueling the trucks is the root cause of the delayed delivery. Thus, by addressing this core issue and implementing a checklist or reminder system, you can prevent similar delays in the future.

Benefits of Why-Why Analysis:

  • Helps to get to the root cause of a problem rather than addressing only the symptoms.
  • Encourages a deeper understanding of the problem and its underlying issues.
  • Facilitates the development of effective and targeted solutions to prevent recurrence.
  • Improves decision-making by focusing on the most critical issues affecting performance.

Versatility of the 5 Why Analysis

The Why-Why Analysis is a versatile tool applicable in various domains, including manufacturing, project management, customer service, and personal problem-solving. Its universality makes it indispensable for individuals and teams seeking a deeper understanding of complex issues.


The 5 Why Analysis can be applied in various domains such as manufacturing, project management, customer service, and personal problem-solving. It helps teams and individuals gain a deeper understanding of complex issues and make informed decisions on how to tackle them effectively. Focusing on the underlying causes rather than the symptoms promotes long-term solutions and continuous improvement.

Scroll to Top