Improve Your Analytical Skills and Decision Making in 5 Steps

Why Ask Why?

We all have days where everything is an emergency, on fire, and top priority. When we react impulsively in these chaotic moments it’s expensive financially and emotionally—often because we’re so shortsighted that we forget to look for the root cause of a problem or situation. One distinction between reacting and responding is time: time to think, plan, and consider a variety of scenarios before we respond. We can activate responsiveness and get to the bottom of a complicated problem in a short period of time using a method called the 5 Whys.

Benefits of 5 whys:
  • Quickly determines the root cause of the problem
  • Helps identifies the relationship between various problem causes
  • Simple, easy and doesn’t require any regression or statistical tools like 6 sigma
Steps to Success:
  • Write down what you think the problem is. o    Ask Why?
  • Write down your possible answer. o    Ask Why again.
  •  Write down your possible answer (again). o    Repeat 3 more times.
  • Finally, determine solutions to address those key points, or root causes.

5 Whys is a problem solving technique where repetitive questions are asked to find out the root cause of the problem. It is a simple way to demonstrate analytical skills and streamline your decision making.

Here’s a sample using a fishbone diagram using this model.

how to make better decisionsThink of a problem you’re experiencing at work, or at home. Using the space below, write the problem statement and then create a fishbone diagram to graphically analyze the problem with the 5 Whys.


Jennifer Albrecht, Vice President of Professional Development, has been teaching and consulting with Learn iT! since 1997. Since joining Learn iT!, Jennifer has built and facilitated all of Learn iT!’s Professional Development classes including Communication, Leadership, Negotiating and Decision Making.

Jennifer strongly believes in Learn iT!’s 8 Step Model for Learning and applies it in all of the classes she builds and facilitates. Further information on the 8 Step Model can be found here.