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Post-it® The Five Why's - Finding the root a problem by asking questions

The five whys — solving problems by asking questions

The Five Whys is a series of useful and quick questioning strategies designed to help you turn ideas into action. Post-it® Products can help kickstart the process and make it easy to take small steps toward achieving your goals.

  • Asking and answering questions to get everyone’s thoughts out is the key to unlocking a bigger problem. The Five Whys method can help stimulate those ideas by focusing on the right questions. It’s a twist on the Socratic method, and paired up with Post-it® Products, this strategy can transform challenges into creative opportunities!

  • 1. Start exploring

    Whether you're in a group or simply brainstorming by yourself, write down the problem at the top of a Post-it® Super Sticky Big Note 22 in. x 22 in., describing it in simple terms, and stick it to an open wall. The large size of the note is great for visualizing your problem, especially when collaborating with a team — and because it’s super sticky, you can remove and re-stick it when needed.

  • 2. Ask questions!

    Identifying the problem will help you and your team focus on the task at hand. Next, ask open questions about why the problem exists. Have each person in your session capture their “why” on Post-it® Super Sticky Notes 3 in. x 3 in. and stick them on the easel pad in columns underneath the problem. Because the notes are easily removable and come a range of colors, shuffling your “whys” around the easel pad is easy, and everyone can differentiate their “whys” by color. Collaboration flows naturally.

  • 3. Step back and examine

    Share and group together which “whys” are similar and/or worthy of deeper consideration by removing and rearranging the Post-it® Super Sticky Notes as needed.

    Now examine your selections! Could there be another cause beneath a “why” that’s contributing to the problem? If so, ask "why?" again, record your answer on another note, and stick it underneath the first note.

    Continue these steps until the root problem is identified. We suggest doing the exercise at least five times, but your situation may call for more or fewer times.

    With the Five Whys method and some key Post-it® Products, you can collaborate your way toward clearer solutions. This questioning strategy is designed to be nimble and fast — and Post-it® Products help get thoughts down quickly and easily, letting everyone have a voice and putting your team on a path toward solving big problems. Just follow these steps!

    1. Start exploring
    2. Ask questions
    3. Step back and examine
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