Infographic: Determining Root Cause Through the 5 Whys

The 5 Whys tool is used to determine the root cause of an issue. In the infographic above, we have taken a simple everyday problem of bird waste inside the dogs’ kennels at an animal shelter. The problem is simple enough, but if this doesn’t get dealt with, it can lead to more serious issues.

Health issues from bird feces in the dog kennel, especially if the feces gets in the dog’s water or food, can cause Giardia. Giardia is an intestinal infection, which is serious and can make a dog very sick.

Usually a recurring issue is a symptom of a deeper cause, and the 5 Whys tool gets to the root cause.

We break it down:

1) Select a cause from a Pareto chart

2) Ask why this outcome happens

3) Select the best reason for “Why #2” and ask why does this happen (Why #3)

4) Continue doing this until you feel you have reached a possible root cause

This tool will help you reach the root cause of an issue, so that you can come up with a long term solution that will fix the problem.

Interested in learning more about the 5 Whys through our Six Sigma training? Visit our training schedule to find a training course in your area! offers both Live Virtual classes as well as Online Self-Paced training. Most option includes access to the same great Master Black Belt instructors that teach our World Class in-person sessions. Sign-up today!

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