The 5 Whys


The primary purpose is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question "Why” five times according to a predefined problem. Not all problems have a single root cause why ‘The 5 Whys’ can help explore the root cause.

Accomodate participants who are not able to:

If the participants are blind or can not read, the template could be read out loud.


If the participant can not control movements the method could be read out loud.


if the participant can not hold on to a pen the method could be read out loud.


If the participant can not write it could be said out loud.


If the participant can not speak sign language or other symbol language could be used.



A defined problem needed to be examined.


The root cause of the problem. Potential multiple root causes.




15 minutes

No. of participants


Activity required

- Communication - Writing - Complex thinking

Step by Step


1 Divide the participants in groups of two. 4 Show an example of how to use the method to make it more clear for the participants what to do. The example should not relate to the scope of the workshop ensuring you are not priming your participants (2 min).
2 Hand out templates where you have filled in the situation/problem. 5 Ask each group to present their 5 whys (1-2 min per group).
3 Ask the participants to fill out the template by first reading the problem. Secondly the participants should ask themselves ‘why’ and come up with an answer. Asking ‘why’ 5 times will provide the participants with the root cause of the problem/situation (5-10 min).

When doing this method you should consider

When the participants are filling in the template, walk around and observe their conversations. Both to ensure that they have understood the task but also to hear and note down valuable

Materials needed


This method goes well with

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