The 5 Whys

2-10 people

This effective and uncomplicated technique is beneficial in identifying the root cause of a difficulty or obstacle. As the name implies, the team identifies an issue and then inquires "why" five times, frequently utilizing the ensuing clarification as a foundation for innovative problem-solving.

Workshop steps


Collaborate with your team to develop a concise problem statement. This unites the group and concentrates on the particular issue. Write this statement at the top of your paper, whiteboard, or flipchart. Keep the problem statement brief and to the point. For example: "Our German office has excessive expenses." / "The quality of our recent product disappoints customers."


Pose this question to the group: What is the root cause of this issue? Engage in a conversation about the response. Aim to summarize it into a brief and clear problem statement.


Revisit the group with the question: What is the cause of this issue? Engage in a conversation about the response and summarize it into a clear problem statement.


When the group believes they've pinpointed the problem's root cause, you can cease asking "why." Otherwise, keep repeating the cycle.


After identifying the core issue, inquire the team about their preferred approach to tackle it. Consider utilizing an idea generation technique from the Toolbox to start developing innovative solutions for the problem.

Need help with this workshop?

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Anna Lundqvist
UX Designer and AI Ethics Strategist guiding innovative product development and educational workshops
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Eddy Salzmann
Design lead and team culture enthusiast driving products and design processes
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Ola Möller
Founder of MethodKit who has a passion for organisations and seeing the big picture
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