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This never actually described what '5 Whys' is, just gave its domain, history, and criticism. As someone looking for an answer to 'What is "5 Whys"?' I am left with no good answer, just more links to QA domain articles. I presume that it is about asking the question "Why?" or "Why is (something)..." but this is never explained, nor is the rational using this unknown thing explained. Inclusion of these things would help people like me understand the article and the subject.
In answer to the question, and hoping that the questioning person still keeps up with these things, is simply this: the "5 whys" technique is a method of finding to "true" or "root" cause to an issue or problem. In incident investigations, typically seen in logistics management (trucking, warehousing and labor industries), this technique is often taught for determining exactly how and why an incident or injury occurred. / The goal is to prevent recurrence of costly incidents or injuries. Therefore, in busy warehouses where product is frequently damaged (resulting in increased costs for replacement of such product) or employees report constant muscle strains (causing increased Workers' Compensation insurance rates), the "five whys" might be taught as a simple way for lower management or supervisors to find the root cause, address the true key issues, and create effective corrective actions that minimize recurrence rates. Simply punishing/ treating a single individual does not deal with the underlying cause if the problem actually develops during training or from lack of enforcement. / There are, of course, other methods of questioning personnel about such matters, such as the "fishbone diagram". The five whys method, however, is fairly simple and easy to remember. / In order to be truly effective, however, these methods have to be used repetitively. An investigator has to ask questions several times, and in different ways, to note any discrepancy or inconsistency. In doing so, he may create the feel of an "interrogation," and thereby encounter resistance from intimidated or offended personnel. To overcome this, investigators may choose to have other team members review and question the incident with the individual, and then compare notes in search of inconsistencies again. Poekoelan (talk) 16:55, 17 October 2013 (UTC)
I removed the following addition to the example because while it is mildly humorous, it also expresses opinions that generally cannot be substantiated or have no bearing on the problem. Also, every concern listed in this proposed addition is beyond the control of the person performing the analysis; such issues are not usually considered "root causes" per the most widely accepted definitions of "root cause".
- Why? The recommended service schedule is usually not reliable and auto shops are not trustworthy; as well, I do not have the time or money to spend on costly maintenance with the off-chance that I am charged a price that's not considered highway robbery (sixth why, true root cause)
- 220.127.116.11 13:28, 11 May 2007 (UTC)
Not all problems have a single root cause. If one wishes to uncover multiple root causes, the method must be repeated asking a different sequence of questions each time.
A generalisation of the 5 Whys
A related, but much more profound method, than the one discribed in this article would the decision tree - with more than 2 alternatives at each node.
The example of a 5-whys analysis of a car not starting illustrates an almost perfect example of the 5-whys failing. First you need to ask the right questions - and in this case there are almost five whys for every 1 of the first five whys. The car won't run. Why1: well it could be compression, ignition, fuel, air, mixture, timing, or the starter isn't operating as designed - i.e. the engine isn't turning over. Let's assume that the starter isn't operating as designed. Why2: well, it isn't getting sufficient energy to the windings. Why3: the solenoid isn't reaching the end of it's travel. Why 4: let's say the battery is dead. Why5 because we have been cranking the engine for 20 minutes. So we charge the battery. It still won't turn over. Is this a new set of whys? It certainly is not - because our original problem was that the car won't start and it still won't and we still don't know why. So Why6: the most likely cause is a bad connection - this connection could be at the battery, at the starter, in a relay, a fuse or any point in the wiring harness. I can tell you that the most likely points are at the battery terminals themselves or the cable ends exposed to acid or salt, or the ground between the starter and the engine block. So do we clean each of these up individually? Or do we hit them all at once? Well we hit them all at once. We don't ask why. The car still won't start. We could insert about a dozen whys in here without getting any closer to the answer. Why7: we have a bad starter. So we replace the starter. The engine finally turns over, but it still won't start. Why8: We don't have ignition. Why 9: Because we have a bad ground to the ignition coil. We fix this, but the engine just sputters and dies. We investigate and find that the compression is off. Why 10 because the timing belt has jumped a tooth. Why 11: because the belt tensioner isn't functioning. We replace it and reset the valve timing. It still won't run Why 12: because the ignition timing is off. Why 13: because the distributor is wet Why14: because its raining and we have had the hood up by the side of the road for 4 hours. We dry it off. It still won't run. Why 15: because the plugs are fouled. Why 16: because we have been trying to start a worn out engine for 6 hours in the rain without ignition. Why 17: because the car won't start.
To make it simpler and shorter, cause and effect are rarely obvious when it comes to starting a car. If your battery is dead and your alternator is gone it does NOT imply that the dead alternator caused the battery to fail. In most cases it is the other way around - a bad battery puts undue load on the alternator causing it to fail. Changing the alternator just burns up another alternator - and performing regular maintenance will not prevent your battery from failing in the first place. Asking "why" five times is not going to get you even close to a solution if there is more than one thing wrong with a vehicle - or a manufacturing process, or a computer network. It's a childish oversimplification of the diagnostic process latched onto by fools who happen to be in positions of authority without a clue as to how their organizations or the devices they use everyday actually function. This should be pointed out with some emphasis, I think.
Problem: The example is bad. 1. Why? It was intentionally oversimplified. 2. Why? The original author of the example didn't want to include much technical detail. 3. Why? He didn't want to confuse people with details specific to one example. 4. Why? He figured people wanted to learn more about 5 Whys, not about automotive troubleshooting. 5. Why? Because this is an article about 5 Whys on WikiPedia, not a frickin' auto repair manual. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 06:20, 8 October 2014 (UTC)