Practical Tools and Wise Quotes on All Matters Creative
1.6. Root Cause Analysis / Five Whys
When seeking causes of a problem, addressing the first cause you find does not necessarily lead to an effective solution. For example, when a medical plaster does not stick well to skin, asking ‘why’ may reveal that the adhesive does not bond well to sweaty skin. Telling people to dry their skin will work, but it will not lead to an invention for plasters that stick even to damp skin. To do this requires a deeper understanding of causes.
If you have young children, you will know that when they repeatedly ask you
‘why’, they can force you to think about real detail. In root cause analysis, we
keep asking ‘why’ or otherwise seeking causes of causes to get to the heart of
the true problem, so we are addressing the real cause, not just a symptom. If
you do this five times (hence the name ‘five whys’) you will very likely get to
the root cause along the way. Chaining arrows, as in the cause-effect diagram,
can be a useful way of making these relationships visible.
Other logical/analytic tools: