The Five Whys Technique

This paper from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) outlines the process of using the Five Whys technique as an effective approach to problem solving.

"When looking to solve a problem, it helps to begin at the end result, reflect on what caused that, and question the answer five times. This elementary and often effective approach to problem solving promotes deep thinking through questioning, and can be adapted quickly and applied to most problems. Most obviously and directly, the Five Whys technique relates to the principle of systematic problem-solving: without the intent of the principle, the technique can only be a shell of the process. Hence, there are three key elements to effective use of the Five Whys technique: (i) accurate and complete statements of problems, (ii) complete honesty in answering the questions, (iii) the determination to get to the bottom of problems and resolve them."


Serrat , O. Asian Development Bank, (2009). The five whys technique (February 2009 | 30). Retrieved from website:

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