Five Whys and Two Hows to Understand a Problem

Five Why's and Two How's to Understand a Problem

Problem-solving is an essential skill for every manager. It helps us identify issues, resolve problems and improve processes. In this post, we'll look at five whys and two hows and explore how these questions can help you better understand a problem. 

Customers served! 1

Quality Management Course

FREE! Subscribe to get 52 weekly lessons. Every week you get an email that explains a quality concept, provides you with the study resources, test quizzes, tips and special discounts on our other e-learning courses.

The first step to solve a problem is to define and understand the problem. This management tool (5W2H) helps in understanding the problem and creating an action plan. 5W2H is an effective tool for understanding the root causes of problems in organizations. 

In an attempt to understand the problem, and to prepare action steps, ask these questions:

  • Who?
  • What?
  • When?
  • Where?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • How Much?

Application (When to use?):

5W2H is an information-gathering technique to understand the problem and to prepare the action plan.

Example to understand a problem:

  • Who provides you with this information?
  • What do you do after getting the required information?
  • Why you made this particular choice?
  • Where do you store the material?
  • At what phase of the process, you inspect the product? (When)
  • How do you decide whether the results are acceptable?
  • How many samples do you take during the final inspection? (or How much)

Root Cause Analysis - Online Training

  • $130 course for just $14.99 today!
  • 8+ hours of videos, slides & quizzes
  • Sample 5W2H Action Plan (for example, when receiving material):

    • Who provides you with this information? - The supplier provides the information electronically.
    • What do you do after getting the required information? - Receiving manager ensures that the staff is available to receive, check and unload the material.
    • Why you made this particular choice? - The process ensures that the material does not need to wait for more than 30 minutes for unloading.
    • Where do you store the material? - We store material in the warehouse.
    • At what phase of the process, you inspect the product? (When) - We inspect material on receipt. No inspection is performed at the supplier location as this supplier is a reliable supplier.
    • How do you decide whether the results are acceptable? - Acceptance Sampling is used to determine the number of items to be inspected and the acceptance/rejection criteria.
    • How many samples do you take during the final inspection? (or How much) - Acceptance Sampling standard ANSI/ASQ Z1.4 is used.

    Difference between 5W2H and Five Whys Analysis:

    5W2H is a method of problem-solving that helps understand the problem. This understanding is achieved by asking questions such as "Why did this happen?" and "How often does this happen?" It is a structured approach to understand the problems.

    In contrast, five whys analysis is a technique for identifying the root cause of a problem by systematically asking why questions until you reach the source of the problem.

    5W1H

    This tool is called 5W1H, which includes Who, What, When, Where, Why and How?

    Kano Analysis

  • Prioritize customer needs and expectations
  • Get this $135 course for just $14.99 today!
  • 2+ hours of videos, slides, template & quizzes