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5 Whys

Many people try to solve a problem by addressing the symptoms. The best way to permanently fix it is to find the root cause.

To find the root cause of any problem, try asking 'Why' five times. Ask 'Why does this happen?' to the original problem to find the immediate cause. Then ask 'Why does this happen' to get the cause of the cause. Keep going five times, if you can, and even further if necessary until you have the root cause that, if addressed, will truly solve your problem.

If you have children, you will know how hard it is to keep answering the question 'why'. It is also difficult to answer the question 'why not', which is a useful thought when working on solutions.

See also:

Root cause analysis

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