Five whys LO21782

Gordon Housworth (
Mon, 31 May 1999 18:13:07 -0400

Replying to LO21766 --


why five times, and not, say, three?

At 17:59 28-05-99 -0300, Marcelo Cabeda wrote:
>Ohno (Toyota Production System) wrote that one of his favorite tools
>searching to solve a problem have been to ask 5 times why...

Has anyone wondered why five times, and not, say, three? For non-trivial
problems, our experience has been that asking "Why?" three times still
deals with symptom and not cause. It is the fourth and fifth "Why?" that
begin to expose cause and why there is such a great lag between an
audience answering the third and fourth inquiry. Unless the
questioner/facilitator is attentive, the group may attempt to evade reply
and move on to other items. Alternatively, if the audience doesn't want to
answer, they may make their answers "reentrant" so that the reply to four
or five is the answer to one. In those cases, there is clearly a tender
issue either beyond their control or damaging to their own position.

Best regards, Gordon Housworth
Intellectual Capital Group LLC
Tel: 248-626-1310


Gordon Housworth <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>