As synchronicity goes, while I was pondering between two topics for my Sunday post, I got an email from our release train engineer (not the train engineer that might come to your mind first!). It was about our upcoming planning meeting and… the “5 Whys” exercise! How funny this was one of my two topics I had in mind for this post – it felt like a sign!
Are you familiar with the “5 Whys?” If you work in manufacturing or in IT, you may already know all about it. It started in 1930 with Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota. He wanted to understand what went wrong when quality failed and came up with this technique which became a part of a methodology called Lean. Much further down the road, in the 90s, it was adopted by software development and implemented under the Agile methodology.
So what’s this whole deal with the “5 Whys?” The purpose of this technique is to find the real cause of a problem by asking “why” over and over again. You can ask “why” less or more than five times, depending on how quickly you can get to the bottom of the problem. Here are a couple of examples of how the asking starts: “Why did the machine stop?” or “Why isn’t the code working?” And keep going down the asking road until you find the main issue.
Can you now see how we could use the “5 Whys” in our daily life?
Psychology tells us that our thoughts determine our feelings, and our feelings affect our actions. So it was no surprise when I found out that some therapists have integrated the “5 Whys” technique into their practice. Why not give it a try on your own? Apply this technique to understand yourself and your relationships better.
Have you ever done something you regretted and wondered why? Or felt anxious for no reason? Or had negative thoughts about someone? Try asking yourself “why” until you get to the bottom of it. You’ll start recognizing your needs, taking better care of yourself, and stop projecting your feelings on others.
As you keep at it, you’ll stop doing things you didn’t mean to, your strong feelings will cool off, and you’ll think better thoughts about yourself and others. You’ll even have more empathy for people around you when they act out.