Resources
Search…
Five Why's
Sakichi Toyoda, founder of Toyota Industries, developed a decision making technique coined as the Five Whys. This technique was designed to drill down on assumptions in order to discover the true root of a problem. This technique is particularly useful when troubleshooting a simple to moderate problem, especially involving a system or process that might not appear to be working properly.

Process

  1. 1.
    Identify a problem statement that defines the most essential description of a problem. For example, this statement might sound something like, "Our website takes longer to load than it did a week ago."
  2. 2.
    Articulate a why response that proceeds the concluded problem statement. This why conclusion should point to a source of reasoning grounded in fact. This isn't a hypothetical process, rather a succinct form of inquiry that may narrow down towards a successful counter-measure. For example, based on our previous problem statement, and then asking "Why?", one might deduce, "The team recently added a series of new images."
  3. 3.
    This "Why?" question is then repeated an average of four proceeding times. Five is a general rule-of-thumb, but isn't necessarily meant to be taken literally. The why process may be fewer or greater than five; and that's alright.
  4. 4.
    Once a fifth "Why?" question has been answered, the next step is to decide on a potential counter-measure. This counter-measure should articulate a simple and actionable decision that may result in a solution or next-steps for the problem.

Notes

  • This process is not meant to place blame or hold any individual responsible for a particular problem. The most common conclusions should establish an organizational issue or process that needs adjustment.
  • When the appropriate stakeholders have been assembled around this process, this process should take less than 30 minutes to accomplish. Though, this process can be repeated multiple times throughout a project per the continued need.

Example

  1. 1.
    Problem Statement
    1. 1.
      The page ranking for the website X has lowered from the previous week.
  2. 2.
    Why?
    1. 1.
      The lighthouse report suggests a lower ranking because of slower page load times.
  3. 3.
    Why?
    1. 1.
      New images and a chat box have recently been added to the site, and those are being flagged in the report.
  4. 4.
    Why?
    1. 1.
      New images -> To make the site more aesthetically pleasing.
    2. 2.
      Chat box -> To increase customer service capabilities.
  5. 5.
    Why?
    1. 1.
      Aesthetics -> Average page view session is less than 1 second, we predict a more appealing design will encourage longer engagement.
    2. 2.
      Customer service -> Our competitors found conversion success in real-time communication services.
  6. 6.
    Why?
    1. 1.
      Engagement -> We assume when a user spends more time on the site they will remember us when making a buying decision.
    2. 2.
      Conversions -> Customers in our market have a lot of questions, and answering these questions have been found to contribute to customer retention.
  7. 7.
    Counter-measure
    1. 1.
      There is an assumption that a better design will result in a more memorable branding.
      1. 1.
        We can validate this assumption by testing, or finding research, that concludes time-spent translates to better brand-recall.
      2. 2.
        We can validate this assumption by testing, or finding research, that aesthetics encourages customer interest/engagement.
      3. 3.
        We can optimize imagery and discover alternatives that conclude a similarly desired effect.
    2. 2.
      An equal competitor is finding success with techniques we aren't yet implementing.
      1. 1.
        We can explore similar alternatives to a chat box, for example: FAQ pages, a documentation site, alternative methods of CTA, etc.
      2. 2.
        We can explore chat box software with a lighter footprint; discover who our chat box competitors are and how they differentiate.
      3. 3.
        We can make sacrifices throughout the rest of the website to help offset the chat box loading requirements.
Copy link
Outline
Process
Notes
Example