The five whys

HAVE you ever encountered a problem that keeps popping up? Ask the five whys to get to the bottom of it.

Here’s a possible scenario:

Fact: You failed to reach your sales quota this quarter.

Why? Because you were not able to close the deals you thought were already secured

Why? Because your clients were asking for more time

Why? Because they cannot decide on time

Why? Because they have to bring the discussion up to the board and the executives

Why? Because they are not the decision-makers

Counter-measure: We need to prioritize presenting to the influencers and decision-makers of the company.

The “Five Whys Technique” was developed in the 1930’s by Sakichi Toyoda, one of the fathers of the Japanese industrial revolution. An industrialist, inventor, and founder of Toyota Industries, his “go and see” philosophy became popular in the 1970’s and it’s still being used by Toyota to solve problems today.

The in-depth understanding of the processes and conditions on the shop floor is the foundation of this decision-making structure. It brings the focus on the actual ground work rather than the mere reflections of people in the boardroom.

By asking the five whys from those directly involved, we get to the root of the problem and come up with solutions that can directly attack the cause rather than its symptoms.

Although this technique is widely used in the industrial and business setting, it can also be tremendously useful in everyday life.

Living in a generation of instant gratification, we are bombarded daily with powerful distractions, emotional manipulations, and the need for constant busyness.

More and more young people are getting diagnosed with health issues that used to be for those above 40 years old.

Families get torn apart by reckless decisions brought about by temporary pleasures and vices. Careers get messed up by the thoughtless abandon of ethics. Lives are getting wasted because of the lack of real purpose and direction.

Maybe by learning to stop for a while to ask the five whys, we can bring more clarity to the situations we face. Maybe by the third why, we will feel more in control so that by the fifth why, we can look at the core of our circumstances and summon up the courage to act on an authentic solution.