11 · 5 Whys
1. GEMBA WALK STAGE
During the Gemba Walk
2. BRIEF DESCRIPTION
The 5 Whys is a simple technique to get to the core of a problem or a challenge by asking “Why?” five times. It enables the discovery of the root causes. The technique can also be used to identify the motivations of stakeholders and customers.
3. HOW TO USE THE 5 WHYS IN THE GEMBA WALK
A root cause analysis during the Gemba Walk is performed using various tools and techniques, and one of the simple ones is the 5 Whys technique that encourages continuous improvement at all levels. The Gemba team asks “Why?” five times to identify the root cause of the problem.
Example of a problem: The wrong product is shipped to the customer 40% of the time
Why is the wrong item shipped to the customer? The packaging associate pulled the wrong item from the inventory.
Why was the wrong item pulled from the inventory? The items are often mislabeled.
Why are the items mislabeled? The person applying labels places the wrong label on the item.
Why does the person apply the wrong label on the item? Because the labels are pre-printed and mixed on the table.
Why does the person applying labels cannot differentiate the labels easily? The code and text on the label are very small.
4. ROLES AND ACTIVITIES
Leader: Supports root cause identification and continuous improvement mindset
Facilitator: Coaches and trains Gemba team members on the 5 Whys technique
Team member: Uses 5 Whys to identify the root cause together with process experts
5. EXPECTED BENEFITS FOR THE GEMBA WALK
Simplifies and reduces the cost of problem-solving
Engages team and stakeholders to collaboratively identify the root cause
Empowers employees to identify problems themselves
Helps reveal underlying problems
6. ORGANIZATIONS THAT APPLY THE 5 WHYS
Airbus Defence and Space, Barry Callebaut, Bocar Group, CEMEX, IMC, Interface, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Swisscom and Thermo Fisher Scientific