Using the 5 Whys to Quickly Address Problems

“Paralysis by analysis” is a risk with problems of all kinds. Consequently, people will often ignore issues or apply so-called band-aid solutions, which do little to address the root causes. Any problem will have multiple root causes, better represented in a tree diagram or fishbone. Unfortunately, these deeper analyses can be complicated and time consuming, when most situations require rapid action.

The solution: Find a single root cause, and address it. This is represented as the “5 Whys” in several frameworks. For any problem, ask and answer “Why?”, using each response as the next question; until you find an appropriate root cause, somewhere around the 5th round.

For example, I spend too much.

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