Managers deal with problems.

And we all know that it is better to fix the underlying cause of a problem than just deal with the symptoms.

One of the best tools to find the underlying cause is to use the deceptively simple ‘five whys’ technique that originated at Toyota.

Think of a problem you are dealing with right now and ask ‘Why?’

Write it down. Go on… do it now, not later!

Take your answer and again ask ‘Why?’ then repeat at least five times.

If you get more than one answer, and you often will, start a new causal chain, and drill into that.

You are looking for a broken process or a behaviour that can be changed. You can then ask ‘Why do we do it that way?’

It can be helpful to use a diagram to record your results, especially if brainstorming problems with a team. Click here to see how, and why you can call them ‘Fishy Problems’.

My best wishes, Paul


Paul Matthews – Speaker/Author/Consultant on Informal Learning, Management and Leadership.