The 5 Whys. Or how questioning yourself may help you get to the answer you need.

1382974404atuzfI came across the 5 Whys when looking for some information to send someone on Problem Solving. The concept was originated in the 1930s by Sakichi ( but I have seen his name also written as Tacchi – so please correct me if you know ) Toyoda one of the founders of the Toyota car company.

His thinking developed out of a desire to understand what happened, in a detailed way at the factory floor level. His premise was that  improving quality at this level, rather than imposing it from on high, would net consistent positive results. So in order to do this he would ask why, 5 times minimum, when an issue or problem had occurred .

It should be noted it was never intended that this problem solving method be used on complex interpersonal issues or more critical urgent issues but it does work well for more practical issues.  I think context is key here; if you used this in a group meeting without explaining the premise or how it may help  it could possibly be seen as patronising- so this needs to be considered. But if using it for yourself – or in a group project context- it could help.

Beyond this at a more complex personal level,  the simple act of asking ourselves why can help us define purpose.  Why are we wanting to do something ? Why does it seem important  at this point in our lives? Why does this direction feel right ?

If someone is struggling to work out where they comfortably fit – I think ‘why’ can help .

Try playing around with this idea- both the problem solving 5 ‘whys’ and the more complex why am I motivated to do ……


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