What are the five whys

The five whys technique is used to uncover the root, the underlying reason for an issue with a client, a firm, or an operation.

Teams must first ask themselves five “why?” questions if they want to arrive at a solution (or “counter-measure,” as the exercise’s name suggests).

Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese investor and businessman who founded Toyota Industries, invented this technology. It’s claimed that Toyota continues to apply its five-whys strategy today, which was developed by Dr. Frederick Taylor in the 1930s and is still in use today.

Where and when to use The Five Whys

It is generally agreed that situations that could be regarded as simple or moderately challenging are the best candidates for using the five whys method. For example, why is our landing page CTA not converting?

Why can’t the five whys be used for more complex problems? That’s a great question! When attempting to resolve complicated issues, it is necessary to consider the many distinct moving pieces carefully.

In the end, you may discover that some root causes are responsible for the surface-level problem. A different technique (for example, cause and effect analysis) would be more effective in identifying and eliminating them.

The Benefits of The Five Whys

The 5 Whys approach is one of the most successful root cause analysis strategies in the Lean management toolbox. Every team encounters hurdles daily.

Furthermore, using the 5 Whys can assist you in determining the underlying cause of any problem and protect the process from repeating errors and failures.

Problems that persist or reoccur are frequently signs of underlying concerns. “Quick fixes” may appear convenient, but they often address the surface problems, wasting resources that you may instead utilize to address the root cause.

How to Use The Five Whys

The conventional five whys technique consists of some phases that must be completed.

Typically, it will begin with forming a team composed of individuals familiar with the problem at hand and the products or processes that are being affected. You will choose one member of this team to serve as a facilitator, and they will be responsible for ensuring that the group remains focused on the problem and actively seeks a solution.

If feasible, it is beneficial to keep track of the condition as it develops. The team should pay close attention to the problem and take meticulous notes to have a thorough conversation. Then, concisely and directly, you should create a problem statement to describe the situation. If the problem description is a fair definition of the issue, the team should agree.


After that, it’s time to question the first why: “why is the problem occurring in the first place?” To answer this question, you must first identify a tangible, factual basis for the problem, which you can then support with research and insights.

This is not a guess or an estimate. You will discover a single, evident explanation in an ideal situation rather than a number.

Think about returning to the call-to-action on the landing page.

Question: Why isn’t the CTA resulting in a conversion?

This is a possible answer because site visitors aren’t aware of it.

The next step involves asking four additional “whys” for each of the answers that have been written in response to the first “why.” Once one or more answers have been reported in response to the first “why,” the next step involves asking four additional “whys” for each of the answers that have been written.

Why aren’t site visitors noticing it, you might wonder.

Well, that’s Because the copy isn’t persuasive enough. One possible explanation is

What is it about the document that isn’t enticing enough? It’s possible that we haven’t communicated the benefit. Why haven’t we been able to share the value? Because we don’t have adequate information regarding their situation.

Here it is: the root cause of your CTA’s failure has been identified.

This is, of course, an elementary example of the 5 Whys in action. Still, you can see how you could build appropriate counter-measures to avoid the problem from recurring in the future by looking at this example.


It is possible that five “whys” will not be enough to uncover the actual, underlying cause of an issue. More “why” questions may need to be addressed to achieve the best possible outcomes if this is the case.

Another potential difficulty, on the other hand, could be that teams are unable to recognize when they have reached their limit. They may continue even if no more valuable responses are found!

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