Use the Five Whys form to determine the root cause of a problem by repeating the question "Why?".
Answers the questions:
  • What is a problem's root cause?
  • What are the relationships between different root causes?
  • What steps can we take to prevent the problem from happening again?


  • The final why, or the real root cause, should always lead to an answer that the team can take action upon.
  • The real root cause should always point to a process that does not work well or does not exist. People do not fail, processes do.
  • Five whys are not required, but generally sufficient. Each problem is different, so some problems may require more whys, while others may require less.


  1. Identify the specific problem.
  2. Ask why the problem occurs. This is the first why.
  3. Answer the question. This is the cause for the first why, but is it the root cause? If not, then ask why this cause occurs.
  4. Repeat this process for every cause until you have identified the real root cause, which is something you can correct to prevent the problem from happening again.

For more information, go to Insert and fill out a form.

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