Sunday, April 06, 2008

Know the root cause for any problem within 5 whys

Ask the question “Why?” five times, you will surely get the root cause of any problem. This technique, taught us by the Japanese, allows us to pursue the deeper, systemic causes of a problem and correspondingly deeper solutions.

Let us take an example and deal with it:

Shop floor supervisor approached you and said - "There is a puddle of oil on the shop floor"

Here you may tell him to clean the floor and continue work. But you are interested in finding the root cause, so you asked "Why there is a oil spill?"

He replies "Because the machine is leaking oil"

You asked "Why is the machine leaking?"

He replied "Because the gasket is deteriorating"

Here you may give a reply to change the gasket and continue the work. You thought that the problem may be something else. So, you asked, "Why gasket is deteriorating?"

He replied "Because we bought gaskets made of inferior material"

You may ask him to buy a better quality gasket and replace the existing one. You may instruct your buyers to go for high quality one in future purchases. But you wanted to know "Why inferior material goods purchased at the first place instead of high quality?"

He replied "Because we got a good deal on them."

At last you asked the fifth "Why we went for that deal?"

He replied "Because the purchasing agent gets evaluated on the basis of savings over normal price tags"

"Oh Yeah. Now I found the root cause" you replied and suggested to change the buying strategy and existing policy.

Congrats, you did an excellent job in finding the root cause of the problem. After that instance now there is no leakage for past few years. :-)