Ask WHY… five times

One day last week I was at theRSA for a meeting and the coffee cup they gave me was this one. Today a quick tip/reminder of a simple technique to get to the source of any issue or problem. Simply ask WHY five times.

This technique was developed by Toyota as part of its manufacturing process. The example often cited from this:

“Why did the robot stop?”
The circuit has overloaded, causing a fuse to blow.
“Why is the circuit overloaded?”
There was insufficient lubrication on the bearings, so they locked up.
“Why was there insufficient lubrication on the bearings?”
The oil pump on the robot is not circulating sufficient oil.
“Why is the pump not circulating sufficient oil?”
The pump intake is clogged with metal shavings.
“Why is the intake clogged with metal shavings?”
Because there is no filter on the pump.

A further tip.

For this technique to work effectively, it is key that you are listening with clean energy, without judgement, with absolute curiosity and the intent to understand and support.


Also published on Medium.