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Using a 5-Why to Start Your Root Cause Analysis Investigations

Aimee Galley


Please join us at the ASQ World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Charlotte, NC on May 1. Mark Galley will be presenting “5 Whys: How to Fully Utilize a Powerful, but Confused Tool.” 5 Whys is one of the most recognized problem-solving tools. The concept is simple, but application varies widely. Different groups within the same company don’t necessarily use it the same way. Because it’s widely misunderstood, 5 Why is frequently discounted as too simple, not quantitative, and not repeatable. The benefit of establishing a 5 Whys baseline within a company is that it’s simple and quick. The 5 Why is not necessarily the end of an investigation, but it’s a great starting point. There is significant opportunity for management and front-line personnel to improve the way they explain problems by properly using this fundamental tool. This presentation will explain how the 5 Whys tool is commonly misused and how it can be more effectively utilized. Actual problems will be provided, as well as examples of how to document and present the 5 Whys.

 Learning Objectives:
  • Build a visual 5 Whys tool for any problem.
  • Combine three different 5 Whys into one more complete analysis.
  • Define the starting point for a 5 Whys analysis based on the organization’s goals.
  • Add evidence to a 5 Whys analysis to ensure that it is valid.
  • Document a 5 Whys analysis three different ways upon returning to work.
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