Quality Problem Solving

Quality Problem Solving-7
Stubborn or recurrent problems are often symptoms of deeper issues."Quick fixes" may seem convenient, but they often solve only the surface issues and waste resources that could otherwise be used to tackle the real cause.The 5 Whys technique is true to this tradition, and it is most effective when the answers come from people who have hands-on experience of the process or problem in question.

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" If you do, make sure that you haven't stopped too soon, and that you're not simply accepting "knee-jerk" responses. The great thing about 5 Whys is that it prompts you to go further than just assigning blame, and to ask why that happened.

This often points to organizational issues or areas where processes need to be improved.

The 5 Whys method also allows you to follow multiple lanes of inquiry. " (Reason 1), which can then be addressed with a counter-measure.

Figure 2: 5 Whys Example (Multiple Lanes) You'll know that you've revealed the root cause of the problem when asking "why" produces no more useful responses, and you can go no further.

" a few more times before you get to the root of the problem.

In other cases, you may reach this point before you ask your fifth "Why? As you work through your chain of questions, you may find that someone has failed to take a necessary action.

The 5 Whys uses "counter-measures," rather than "solutions." A counter-measure is an action or set of actions that seeks to prevent the problem from arising again, while a solution may just seek to deal with the symptom.

As such, counter-measures are more robust, and will more likely prevent the problem from recurring.

You can use 5 Whys for troubleshooting, quality improvement, and problem solving, but it is most effective when used to resolve simple or moderately difficult problems.

It may not be suitable if you need to tackle a complex or critical problem.

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