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Why Why Analysis for Effective Problem Solving | 5 Why Analysis

why why analysis

As in any practical field, especially in the business and technology, cultural understanding of the problem itself is crucial to providing relevant solutions. Another valuable approach that can be applied to root cause identification is the “Why Why Analysis. ” This is a structured technique, in which the word “Why?” is posed repeatedly until the major causes of an issue are revealed. Based on the concepts of the Six Sigma business improvement methodology and critical thinking, the Why-Why Analysis provides a clear framework through which multifaceted issues can be examined and diced up into constituent elements.

What is Why Why Analysis?

Why Why Analysis is a method used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a specific problem. It aims to pinpoint the root cause of a fault or problem by repetitively questioning “Why?” Each answer forms the basis for the subsequent question, ensuring a thorough exploration of the problem at hand. This iterative process helps strip away the layers of symptoms to reveal the core issues.

How Does Why Why Analysis Work?

The process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Identify the Problem: Start with a clear and concise definition of the problem. Understanding the context and the specifics of where the issue occurs is crucial.
  2. Ask Why: Inquire “Why?” the problem happens and document the answer.
  3. Drill Down Further: If the initial answer does not reveal the root cause, ask “Why?” again, basing this question on the previous response.
  4. Repeat: Continue this process until the underlying cause is identified. This usually requires asking “Why?” five times, but the number can vary depending on the complexity of the issue.

This method is not just about asking why repeatedly but involves a thoughtful examination of each layer of the problem, ensuring that each response is based on factual accuracy.

Example of Why Why Analysis

Problem: A company notices a significant drop in website traffic.

  • First Why: Why has our website traffic decreased?
  • Answer: The load time for the homepage has increased recently.
  • Second Why: Why has the load time for the homepage increased?
  • Answer: The server response time has gone up.
  • Third Why: Why has the server response time increased?
  • Answer: The server has been receiving more requests than it can handle.
  • Fourth Why: Why is the server receiving too many requests?
  • Answer: A recent marketing campaign increased traffic more than expected.
  • Fifth Why: Why did we not anticipate the increase in traffic?
  • Answer: The campaign’s impact was not accurately forecasted in the server capacity planning.

Solution: Enhance server capacity and refine forecasting models for future campaigns to handle unexpected surges in web traffic.

Benefits of Why Why Analysis

1. Simplicity and Accessibility: The primary advantage of Why-Why Analysis is its simplicity. It requires no special tools or technical knowledge, making it accessible to professionals across various fields.

2. Promotes Deep Understanding: This analysis pushes teams to explore problems at a deeper level, promoting a more thorough understanding of operational processes and the issues impacting them.

3. Encourages Team Collaboration: It fosters a collaborative environment. As team members collectively pose questions and provide insights, the analysis becomes a group effort enriched by diverse perspectives.

4. Identifies Root Causes: Above treating symptoms, Why-Why Analysis aims to uncover the actual causes of problems, leading to more sustainable and effective solutions.

Applications of Why Why Analysis

Why Why Analysis is versatile, applicable across various contexts from manufacturing defects to software bugs, from service delivery inefficiencies to healthcare management issues. It helps organizations:

  • Improve Product Quality: In manufacturing, a product might fail quality checks repeatedly. Why-Why Analysis can trace the problem back to a faulty batch of materials sourced from a vendor, leading to improved procurement practices.
  • Enhance Customer Service: In service industries, frequent customer complaints about delayed service can be traced back through Why-Why Analysis, revealing inadequate staffing during peak hours and prompting better workforce management.
  • Optimize Business Processes: In software development, recurrent system crashes can be analyzed to find that inadequate testing of new features is the root cause, leading to an enhanced QA process.


It is, therefore, important for any professional or organization that aims at fixing issues deliberately to apply Why-Why Analysis. When the reasons for occurrences are well understood, the organizations enhance its functioning, enhance the quality of the product, and deliver excellent customer service to warrant sustainable business success. This suggests that in today’s more challenging and sometimes oligopolistic world, tools such as Why-Why Analysis are essential for those who want to prosper by solving the essential issues that confront them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the 5 Whys Analysis?

The 5 Whys is a problem solving technique that aims at identifying the causes of a defect or a problem by answering the ‘why’ question Understandably, the number 5 is arbitrarily used as a guideline, as the real essence of the technique is to make the questioning continuous till a basic root cause is identified. Every why in response to the previous answer takes the conversation further into the root of the problem, when the underlying factors for every symptom known to relate to the issue are explained.

What is the Purpose of the Why-Why Analysis?

Hence the Why-Why Analysis is mainly used to the extent where one can uncover the real root of the problem and not just operate on the symptoms. The rationale of this method is to try and make sure that appropriate measures are taken to avoid development of the problem in future, unlike other methods that only seek to deal with the problem a little at a time. It focuses on the enhancement of knowledge and establishes lasting strategies, making the processes correct and free from mistakes.

What is the 5 Why Rule?

The “5 Why Rule” is a rule within the Why-Why Analysis strategy that requires that one ask questions about the cause of an issue at least five times or to the depth of the root cause of the issue. This rule drew from the fact that the root cause tends to surface if five ‘why’ questions are asked, but could be more or less depending with the situation. The rule saves from hasty conclusions and guarantees deeper analysis of the issue.

What is the 5 Why Strategy?

The 5 Why Strategy refers to critical problem solving techniques amongst different stakeholders of an organization whereby the said stakeholders – often a team or an individual – ask a total of 5 questions to try and uncover the root cause of a certain issue. The strategy is used in combination with the other tools such as fishbone diagrams or flowcharts because they help to present the causes and effects in meaningful set-ups which contribute to the efficiency of the insight. It is used in all fields but especially in production, economical and business processes, projects and managing and quality assurance due to its simplicity and efficiency in getting to the source.

Overall, the 5 Whys is a strategy that fosters deeper understanding and continuous improvement within processes by addressing the core issues that lead to problems, rather than merely tackling the symptoms that they manifest.

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