5 Whys

The 5 Whys method is an iterative problem-solving technique that helps identify the root cause of a problem by asking 'why?' five times or more.


The 5 Whys method is a root cause analysis technique that involves asking "Why?" five times to uncover the underlying cause of a problem. By drilling down to the core issue, it helps in understanding the fundamental reason behind a symptom. This method is essential in problem-solving and continuous improvement processes, particularly in manufacturing and business operations. It's simple to use but requires thoughtful questioning to reach meaningful conclusions. By addressing the root cause, it enables targeted solutions that prevent the problem from recurring.

Suitable for

  • Identifying the original problem
  • Instances when addressing an apparent problem does not yield desired results
  • Recognizing potential threats or issues


Problem Statement

The initial issue or complaint to be addressed. This is typically a user pain point or a specific problem that has been observed in the product or service.

Root Cause Analysis

A documented series of "why" questions and answers that dig deeper into the problem, uncovering the underlying causes of the issue. This analysis helps teams understand the core issue and potential reasons behind it.

Identified Root Cause(s)

The core problem(s) that the "5 Whys" method has uncovered. Identifying the root cause(s) is crucial, as it helps teams focus on addressing the actual issue rather than treating symptoms of the problem.

Proposed Solution(s)

Based on the identified root cause(s), the team can propose solution(s) to address the issue. These solutions should focus on resolving the core problem and preventing it from recurring in the future. The proposed solutions should be documented and prioritized based on their potential impact.

Action Plan

A documented plan detailing the steps required to implement the proposed solution(s). This plan should include roles and responsibilities, timelines, resources, and any dependencies or risks associated with the implementation.

Results and Learnings

After implementing the solution(s), the team should evaluate the outcome and measure the impact of the changes. This includes comparing the before-and-after situation, assessing user feedback, and analyzing any relevant metrics. The results and learnings should be documented and shared with the team, helping to refine the process and inform future problem-solving efforts.

Process Improvement

Document the lessons learned from applying the "5 Whys" method to improve the overall UX design process. This includes identifying areas where the method was effective, as well as areas where improvements can be made.



Identify the Problem

The first step in the '5 Whys' method is to identify the problem or issue that needs to be solved. This involves discussing with your team or stakeholders the symptoms and impacts of the problem to ensure everyone is on the same page.


Ask the First Why

Once the problem has been identified, ask the first 'Why' question. This question should focus on understanding the root cause of the problem. For example, if the issue is that users are not finding a specific feature on your website, the first 'Why' could be: 'Why are users not finding the feature?'


Analyze the Answer

After asking the first 'Why,' analyze the answer provided by the team or stakeholders. This may involve gathering data, user feedback, or conducting further research to validate the given response.


Ask Subsequent Whys

Based on the analysis of the first answer, ask the next 'Why' question. This process is repeated until you have asked a total of five 'Why' questions. Each subsequent 'Why' should delve deeper into the root cause, helping you peel back the layers and identify the underlying issue.


Identify the Root Cause

After asking the fifth 'Why,' the final answer should reveal the root cause of the problem. At this point, you should have a clearer understanding of what is causing the issue and can begin brainstorming solutions to address it.


Implement Solutions

With the root cause identified, work with your team to develop and implement solutions that address the problem. Monitor the results of these changes to ensure they are effective in solving the issue and improving the user experience.


Review and Iterate

Lastly, review the entire process and the solutions implemented. Assess the effectiveness of the '5 Whys' method in identifying the root cause and solving the problem. If needed, iterate on the process and solutions, continually seeking to improve the user experience.

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