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5 Whys

The 5 Whys is a method of asking 'why' five times to get to the root cause of a problem. First state the problem:

The machine broke down:

why did it break down?
It seized up for lack of oil

why did it run out of oil?
the maintenance person did not oil it

why didn't the maintenance person oil it?
the oil filler is impossible to access

why is the oil filler impossible to access?
The machine guard conceals it

In this case it has taken four 'whys' to get to the root cause of the problem. The solution might be to cut a hole in the guard, or extend the oil filler tube.

The 5 Whys is used in Lean Production and Six Sigma.

 Process improvement is included in the MiC Quality Primer in Statistics. Try out our courses by taking the first module of the Primer in Statistics free of charge.
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