🤔 Conquering Your Problems with 5 Whys


Have you ever had a problem you couldn't solve❓

I'm not talking about a schooltime math problem (we've all had those➗), but rather a real-world problem with real-world consequences.

This can be incredibly frustrating.😡

You've identified the problem blocking your path and now you're staring it right in the face. But you just simply cannot get past it. So, what do you do?

Ask "why?". Then ask why again. Then maybe, just maybe....ask why three more times!

That's the premise of the Five Why's. The Five Why's is a technique used to better understand the cause and effect relationship of a problem while getting to the root of the matter🌱. The Five Why's was made famous by engineer and businessman Taiichi Ohno, who used it in the development of the Toyota vehicle production system and is largely considered an early pioneer in the industry🚗.

If you're still confused, take a look at the graphic below⬇️

What Are The 5 Whys? - mlean®

The process involves identifying a problem statement and then asking why successively until the real problem, or root cause, can be found🔎. This is the foundation of the problem-solving field known as root cause analysis.

So how might this look for a medical student? Check out the following example:

Problem Statement: I failed my microbiology exam.

Why #1
→ I didn't know the material well enough.

Why #2 → I was cramming the night before the exam.

Why #3 → I didn't spend enough time studying earlier in the week.

Why #4 → I dedicated too much time studying for the Anatomy exam next week.

Why #5 → I didn't write out my study schedule like I normally do.

In the above scenario, the root cause was failing to create a study schedule that could help to prioritize what subjects need to be focused on more based on the date of the exam📝.

This is just an example, but it's easy to see how asking "why" can uncover issues that may not be as readily apparent at first. Perhaps there was a piece of your strategy that you didn't know was missing. Or perhaps you spent too much time focusing on one area when that time could have been spent elsewhere⌛.

It may not always take five why's to get to the root cause, but this is an excellent template for deciphering problems when the answer seems unclear💡.

Now it's your turn: Consider a problem you've had in your life recently and try to break it down with the five why's. Did you find a different solution to the problem? Did you identify an issue you hadn't noticed before?

The next time you are face-to-face with a difficult problem, don't get discouraged! Just ask why.

🗺️ Something I discovered: The How We Feel app for iOS and Android. I have no idea how this got on my phone, but it's great for self check-ins and being more mindful of one's emotions...something I'm trying to be more intentional about. Plus, it's completely free!

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