Widget 5 Whys
Updated: 5/3/2017
Widget 5 Whys
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What are the 5 Whys

By Nathanael Okhuysen

When something goes wrong, especially in a large organization, there can be an instinct to point fingers and shift blame. This probably isn’t the best way to prevent the problem from arising in the future though. Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota Motor Company, developed the “5 Whys” process, a type of root cause analysis, to identify and fix problems that arose within the company. It has since been widely adopted as part of lean manufacturing, Kaizen, and Six Sigma methodology.

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Storyboard Description

Root Cause Analysis - 5 whys - Five Whys - Genchi Genbutsu philosophy

Storyboard Text

  • Widgeter Mk. II
  • Gary has noticed the widgets coming through his station are defective.
  • Gary reports the problem to his boss, and they decide to perform a quick "5 Whys" analysis, along with a couple of Gary's co-workers.
  • The team articulates the problem and builds a linked chain of causation back to the root cause: the secondary widget punchers aren't being cleaned enough.
  • The team uses Storyboard That to map out a new protocol for widget puncher maintenance that is easy to understand and follow.
  • Gary's boss uses the storyboard as part of her report to upper management, reassuring them that the source of the defects has been eliminated.
  • There are no more defective widgets! The manufacturing process has been improved, and everyone is ready to get back to making the product.
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