5 Steps to Uncovering the Root Problem

TJ Waldorf
Reading Time: 1 minute
Focusing only on surface level problems can lead to wasted effort and incorrect outcomes.

Have you ever spent a bunch of time working on a problem only later to realize you merely addressed a symptom? The problem still exists and you’re back to square one.

Well, there’s a simple but extremely effective technique that allows you to quickly identify root problems by asking ‘Why’. It’s called the 5-Why’s technique.

Here’s how it works, and why its so effective.

Asking ‘why’ after each surface level problem is sited can allow you to identify the root problem in a matter of minutes.

Here’s an easy-to-understand example of this technique in action:
The vehicle will not start. (the problem)
Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule

Take Action: Next time you have a [possible] problem on your hands, use the 5-Why’s process to determine if the initially stated issue is actually the root problem, or merely a symptom.

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