Have you ever had a problem you felt you just couldn’t solve? Of course, that’s sort of a silly question, because unless you’re not human, you’ve no doubt been frustrated by what seemed like an implacable problem.
Sometimes, it’s because we don’t have all the facts, but at our other times our anxiety about the problem gets in the way of our thought process.
Solving a Problem
But I just learned about the Five Whys in a book I was reading, actually a mystery, of all things. So I decided to do a little more research, and found the Five Whys is a technique originally invented by Sakichi Toyoda that was used within Toyota to solve problems in the manufacturing process. This concept is used today in applying lean methodologies to solve problems, improve quality, and reduce costs.
Wikipedia gives this example:
The Problem: The vehicle will not start.
- Why? – The battery is dead. (first why)
- Why? – The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
- Why? – The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
- Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
- Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
How Can You Use the Five Whys?
If you’re a blogger, like me, you may have experienced the problem on being late with your daily, weekly or twice weekly post, whatever your schedule happens to be. That’s what is happening with me. Why was I able to publish early in the week and now I’m rushing to publish on Thursday or Friday?
Of course, I could just switch my schedule, but I’ve learned that I receive more traffic and comments if I post early in the week. Also, I’ve just joined the Google+ Blog to Build Your Business community whose members post their blogs on Tuesday.
So, I decided to try the Five Whys to get at the root of my problem.
The Problem: I’m late publishing my posts.
- Why? – I have too many other projects/things to do (first why).
- Why? – I’ve over scheduled myself (second why)
- Why? –I like to do fun things that take up too much time (third why)
- Why? – It’s a way of avoiding the difficult task of writing a post (fourth why)
- Why? – I can’t think of a topic for my post (fifth why)
I bet you can identify with my real problem — identifying topics to write about. So, my goal for next week is to have a post written by Tuesday. Here’s a problem. I’m going away for a long weekend (a fun thing) and have client work to finish up by tomorrow (over scheduled). Ha!! But I do have a topic. It will get done.
Have you ever used the Five Whys technique? How do you problem solve?