The "5 Why's" is an effective tool to find the Root Cause of a problem.

When things go wrong, we ask why. We then find solutions to the answer of that initial “why?”

Those superficial solutions don’t sustain long-term success because they don’t address the true causes. 

To find better solutions, we need to know the true (root) causes. Find the root cause by asking the “5 Why’s”

Fun Fact: It generally takes 3-7 cycles of asking “why” to get to the root cause. 

This technique is called the “5 Why’s” because 5 = avg(3,7)

The outside of the Jefferson Memorial is deteriorating

Maintenance crews were using high-powered sprayers to frequently clean the monument.

The solution that addresses this superficial issue would have included changes to cleaning materials, schedule, or even simply accepting the eventual deterioration of this national monument. 

They were removing bird droppings

To address this factor, workers tried placing nets around the memorial, but they were unsightly and birds still got through. 

They come to eat the spiders.

They come to eat the bugs.

They’re attracted to the lights.

The solution to this “root” cause is to change the lighting, minimizing the time that the memorial remained illuminated at night. This reduced the insects by 90%. Addressing the root cause eliminated the need for excessive cleaning. 

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