What toddlers know about root cause analysis

Young toddlers are famous for asking the question, "Why?" It's too bad we don't ask that same question very often in the workplace because it turns out that "Why" is a very powerful tool for diagnosing the root cause of many performance problems. The simple technique, pioneered by Toyota, simply involves asking "Why?" an average of five times until you uncover the real cause of a particular problem.

Example: We need communication skills training.
A prospective client recently made this request. Using the 5 Whys technique, we were able to discover there may be other needs.

1. Why?
I've noticed people using poor written and verbal communication.

2. Why do you think that is?
I don't think people are taking enough time.

3. Why are people rushing things?
There's a lot of pressure to get things done quickly.

4. Why do they feel so much pressure?
Error rates have gone up lately, so we're spending a lot of time fixing mistakes.

5. Why have error rates gone up?
I'm not sure why, but I'd love to find out.

Now, our focus has shifted from training (which we still might need) to fixing error rates. Another layer of root cause analysis is necessary at this point, but the 5 Whys technique helped us identify an opportunity to really impact the business.

You can learn more about this and other Rapid Employee Development Ideas by attending our webinar on Monday, December 6 at 12 pm. Use this link to register for free.