Organizational Performance Part 33: Common Mistakes When Using 5 Why for Problem Solving | Operational Excellence Quick Hits
Quick Hits share weekly tips and techniques on topics related to Operational Excellence. This week’s theme relates to how to avoid common mistakes and pitfalls when using 5 Why analysis. We hope you enjoy the information presented!
Speaker 1: (00:05)
As we continue on the 5-why analysis on why organizations struggle with effective problem solving, remember we went through, we identified all the primary factors that contributed to that problem. From the feedback I got from the LinkedIn poll, we selected incorrectly defining the problem as the relevant factor. We did our first why statement and the answer to our first why is there’s insufficient data collected at the time the problem occurs. So now, what we want to do is we want to verify that, so we need to go and look for evidence. So in this case, I did some investigation in different companies. And what I find is there’s any lack of evidence of any formal data collection tools being used to assess the current situation when a problem occurs. So what I was looking for was use of the 5W2H tool that we talked about last video, use of a histogram, use of flow charts, use of any other tools to gather data about the current situation, and that’s lacking.
Speaker 1: (01:12)
I don’t move on to my second why until I verify with information or data that the first why answer is actually occurring. So you have to go to the [Gemba 00:01:26] and look for data, look for information, speak with people, okay? So remember our most effective tools in problem solving, our legs, our eyes, and our ears. So we go to where the problem’s occurring. We look for our information. We speak with people to gather our evidence. So now we want to ask our next why question. We use our first why answer to create our next why question. So why is there insufficient data being collected at the time the problem occurs? So now we need to understand what is the answer to that question? So I can come up with some hypothesis, such as people aren’t trained on using the tools. They don’t know what to look for.
Speaker 1: (02:13)
They don’t have time. So I’d like people to comment on what they think the reason is, why there’s insufficient data collected at the time the problem occurs. So one of the things we want to be careful about here is a lot of times I see in people’s 5-why, they’ll get down to the third or fourth why and the answer to the question will be one of the statements further up in the 5-why, so we get circular logic. So one of the things we want to be careful about is when we answer a question that we don’t fall into that issue of circular logic. So circular logic means we get in the circle and the logic keeps going around and around and around. And we don’t get to the problem because we’re in that circular logic, and we don’t get to the root cause. So that’s one of the issues I see with the 5-why. Another issue is assuming we know the answer to the why without going out and doing the investigation and data collection.
Speaker 1: (03:08)
So once you go through the 5-why, if you see when it’s been done correctly, it’ll be like, “Oh, that makes logical sense. That’s pretty easy.” But most 5-whys take multiple days to go through to answer the questions, validate and verify that it’s actually happening before you can ask the next why. We want to be careful when we’re going through this to don’t fall into those traps, right, the circular logic and making assumptions without verifying with data. We also want to talk about making sure that the logic flows correctly, right? So that’s when we read down the 5-why, we want to use the logic of because. So we’re going from the effect to the cause.
Speaker 1: (03:55)
When we read up the 5-why, we’re going from the cause to the effect, we’re using if-then logic. So if we’re diligent about using our if-then logic and because logic, then we don’t fall into those traps. So those are some of the hints for this week on how to be effective in using the 5-why tool. Now I’d like people to comment on why companies don’t use the core tools or there’s not sufficient data collecting at the time the problem occurs. So I’m interested to hear people’s response. And next week, we’ll talk about the answer to the second why. (silence).