# Five Whys

# Phase: 🎨 Problem shaping
Focus: Diverge


Time commitment: A few minutes if integrated into another activity; 1 hour if a standalone activity
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: A problem or user behavior that needs to be examined in more depth
Who should participate: Anyone on the team (users, too!)
Best for: Digging into issues or behaviors that seem obvious or are lacking in detail

# About this tool

Originally developed by Toyota to help understand manufacturing problems, the five "why"s method is a quick, easy way to dig deeper into any statement that may be lacking detail either because it seems self-evident or because it's poorly understood. You can use this tool either as its own standalone exercise, or at any point with any other design method as a brief but effective diversion.

All you need to do is ask the person who's speaking (whether that's a team member or a user) "why?" whenever they explain something to you. Channel your inner toddler! Every time you ask them "why", they'll be encouraged to explain their own understanding or reasoning a little deeper.

Five "why"s may seem excessive at first, but often you'll gather insight after the "why" you might be inclined to drop. Or, for complex situations, you might want more "why"s.

As a standalone activity, the five "why"s method can be especially useful when doing triage in a crisis situation or as a postmortem when something unexpectedly negative has happened. If staging a standalone exercise, be sure to end the activity by assigning responsibility (or at least defining tasks) for solving the root causes gleaned from the final "why".