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5 Whys: A Lean Six Sigma Tool Even Used by Children

Many of you who are reading this may have young children, nieces, nephews, or friends with children. So you are probably aware of the whys that kids ask.

Usually, the adult who is being asked the whys gives up and shifts the child’s attention to something else. Well, that child has just used one of Lean Six Sigma’s most brilliant tools, and they’ve used it perfectly!

5 whys

Unfortunately, most adults have stopped using the tool in everyday life in its entirety.

In a Kaizen Event or workshop, the team would focus on any hindrances and remove them. There are many tools used within the Kaizen Event, such as display boards, and cross training charts, which are great and visual.

Lean Six Sigma has everyday improvement tools, that anyone can use and support the philosophy of Kaizen for continuous improvement. These tools support points of view, with facts and data.

The 5 Whys

* Remember, the number 5 is arbitrary. It’s just a reminder that you need to dig deeper into the problem until you get to the root cause.

To get to the root cause of a problem, keep asking why. Now along the way, you will discover levels of problems, but you want the root cause, so keep asking why until you get to the root cause of the problem.

This could take 50 whys, or perhaps you get to the root cause in only 3 whys. Either way, it will be obvious you’ve hit the root. Discovering the root cause of the problem will provide you with the magic solution to end that problem.

Simple Example of 5 Whys Usage

Why is there so much bird waste inside the dog kennels at a dog rescue?
Because the birds make their nests right above the kennels.

Because the birds have easy access to build their nests here.

Because the existing canopy is pulled back.

Because it’s the windy season and the existing canopy makes loud thunderous noise that scares the dogs and makes them reactive.

Because that canopy isn’t strong enough and isn’t permanent. It creates a space for the birds to make their nests.

Solution: Install a permanent roof type structure that will prevent noise that scares the dogs as well as prevents the bird waste from getting into the dog kennels. This structure would also protect the dogs from exposure to the elements, such as heat and rain.

Keep Asking…

Once again we stress not to stop until the obvious root cause is in the last why, thus giving you the solution or protocol that needs to take place. This can be done for each individual problem.

This Lean tool can be used to figure any root cause of any problem, at work or at home. The most genius part is that all of the Lean tools are so simple to use and greatly effective. So simple that any child can use it, and do!

Learn more information about’s Lean Six Sigma training coursework, available as classroom, onsite, or online options.

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