What is Five Why Analysis?

Instructor: Ashley Johns

Ashley has taught college business courses and has a master's degree in management.

Have you ever faced a problem, yet had no idea how to get to the root of it? You could spend millions of dollars for a specialist to analyze the problem. Or spend no money with the Five Why Analysis. This lesson reviews the technique.

What is the Five Why Analysis?

Most people have been around the toddler that cannot stop asking the question 'why?' This is a child's way of figuring things out. Have you ever thought about using it in business? Maybe you should.

The Five Why analysis is a technique that was created by Sakichi Toyoda in the 1930s. He founded Toyota Industries and used the technique as a way to get to the true problem. The technique was created so businesses would stop looking for a 'quick fix' and fix the actual problem. Mr. Toyoda saw that fixing all the problems in the boardroom rather than where the work was being done was not working. You need to go to the source of the problem to fix it properly.

The technique involves finding out the problem by asking the question 'why?' no less than five times.


Let's take a look at a company that is receiving complaints. This company distributes cleaning supplies to other companies. Lately there have been multiple complaints about the services from one of their drivers.

Problem: HR says this driver is not working a full-time status and needs to be given more work.

Why? He is coming to work at 7:00 AM and getting off at 12:00 PM, four days per week.

Why? He's asked for a guy to ride along with him, making him get his work done earlier.

Why? He wants to get off early.

Why? He works a second job.

Why? He's not happy with his salary at this company.

Why? Competing companies are paying their employees more.

Counter-measure: The human resource department needs to confirm the company is paying the employees competitively and educate on benefits offered by the company.

Analysis Benefits

Benefits of using this technique include quick identification of the root of the problem and the relationships between each root. This quick analysis makes sure future issues are prevented. Mr. Toyoda understood that it is difficult to solve an issue that you don't fully understand. By getting your hands dirty and digging deeper you are able to eliminate the problem altogether.

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