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How to proceed Why-Why Analysis

To identify the root cause

for quick improvement
- Recurrence prevention of root cause -

October 1st, 2003

Yazaki Corporation
Toyota Business Unit

1. Introduction
Under the Toyota Production System, Why-Why Analysis
has an ironclad principle to repeat Why 5 times at Toyota,
in order to identify the root cause of a trouble.
This principle shows it is very important to identify the root
cause and complete the recurrence prevention as quickly as
possible when a certain trouble occurs.
These days, Why-Why Analysis brings about some
successful results in identifying the root cause of a quality
problem and implementing recurrence prevention.
I sometimes hear such complaints, I dont understand how
to do Why-Why Analysis, I cant repeat Why 5 times,
or I cant identify the root cause because Ive found many
possible causes.

For people in need, I give you tips to proceed WhyWhy Analysis in this document.
I hope this document helps you understand and
utilize Why-Why Analysis.

2. Before beginning Why-Why Analysis

(1) Clarify the content of a problem, and
understand the fact exactly.
Clear up the problem with 5W1H.
When Date, Time
Where Place, Process
Who Person, Responsible person
What Component, Part
Why Reason, Cause
How Method, Means, Frequency,

(2) Understand the structure (mechanism) and

function (role) of the problem.
Check drawings, QC process chart, Inspection specification,
Operation standard etc. to completely understand the parts,
characteristics, functions and structures.

(3) Check the problem part of defective products

and actual things of relevant parts.
When checking the defective products, it is necessary to keep
such pictures and data as dimensional accuracy and measured
characteristics etc.

(4) Check the actual processing/assembly sites of

defective products or relevant parts.
On the day that the defective product is manufactured,
ask the supervisors and operators if theyve found
some differences before/after the manufacturing, and
record the findings.
If changes in 4M (Machine, Material, Method, Man)
are found, record the details.

3. 5-time Why
If you ask Why only once, you cannot take a
permanent measure for recurrence prevention
because one-time Why provides superficial
causes, ending up first aid.
There are numbers of examples that repeating
Why 5 times has reached to the root cause, based
on the fact of actual product and production site in
an attempt to identify the root cause.
Followings are essential for the analysis.

Processing/Assembly conditions at the production

site must be the same as those when the defect
product was manufactured.

Its not too much to say that you cant find out
the root cause if the processing/assembly
conditions are changed, because the existing
situation at the production site is also changed.
Processing and assembly must be checked right
after processed or assembled.
This is a very effective condition to identify the
root cause based on the fact.

Keep in mind that the more you are away

from the time when a defective occurred,
the more you have difficulty in identifying
the root cause.

4. Case study from Toyota

Production System
Here is a model case of Why-Why Analysis
for the phenomenon: Machine does not work

With 5-time why, Toyota identified the root cause.


Case study: Machine does not work

(1) Why the machine stopped?
Because the fuse blew out due to the overload.
(2) Why the overload was applied?
Because the lubricant for the bearing was not enough.
(3) Why the lubricant was not enough?
Because the lubricant pump did not pump up enough.
(4) Why the pump did not pump up the lubricant enough?
Because the axis of pump had looseness resulted from
(5) Why the axis wore out?
Because some swarf came in resulted from the fact that
there was no filter.

Repeating why 5 times, Toyota reached to the

countermeasure: Install a filter

As this example
You must confirm based
on the principles.


1st cause

2nd cause
Fuse blew
out due to

3rd cause
was not

4th cause
Pump didnt
pump up

5th cause
Axis wore out.


It is very important to stick to Genbutsu (actual

product), Genba (actual site), and Genjitsu (fact)
when you are trying to identify the root cause.
If you come to deadlock, it is important to
- observe thoroughly.
- check if there are some problems with each
item and activity.
- cling to questions you may have.
- repeat Why until you are fully satisfied.

Lets think about the following cases.

1) 1-time why
The supervisor replaced the fuse. This is a good
measure as first aid. However, the same problem
would reoccur in a couple of months because the
measure is not taken for the root cause.
2) 3-time why
The lubricant pump could be replaced. However,
the same problem would reoccur in a few months
because this measure is not taken for the root cause
as well. Also, the measure costs too much.

3) 4-time why
The axis of pump could be replaced. However, the
same problem would reoccur in a few months
because this measure is not taken for the root cause
as well. The cost would be cheaper than that in the
case of 2) above, but it takes long time to determine
the frequency of replacement.
4) 5-time why
Permanent measure can be taken, and the machine
will never stop due to the same reason. Production
problems come to the end when recurrence
prevention for the root cause is completed.

In this way,
if you pursue why 5 times,
you can find out the root cause and can
take permanent measures.


Now, if I repeat why further, followings come out.

(6) Why the filter was not installed?
Because the machine designer didnt realize the
necessity of the filter.
(7) Why the designer didnt realize?
- Because he/she had no thoughts about swarf.
- Because there was no system to feed problems
occurred at a plant back to the Equipment Design
(8) Why the designer didnt realize the treatment of swarf?
Because he/she didnt care about issues other than the
conditions for product processing.

In this case,

Why-Why Analysis is not focused on the

relationship between result and cause with
actual product and production site, but on the
designer or system. In other words, this
analysis is far away from the original purpose
that is to take the recurrence prevention of root
If it is necessary to improve the system, an
appropriate department at the head quarter
must be in charge and enhance the system.


5. Notices on Why-Why Analysis

When analyzing, identify the cause from both
aspects of made the problem occur and made the
problem flow out.
To figure out if you reach the root cause or not,
confirm that the problem will never occur due to the same
It is quite unusual that one phenomenon (Why) is caused
by two causes at the same time.
Production problem should be solved by identifying root
cause in production process errors but not as design
Do not take up an assumed cause which is not found
from the fact.

Sentences to specify phenomenon or Why

must be simple and short.
After finishing the analysis, read the report from
the last Why to the first phenomenon with
using the conjunction of thus, in order to
confirm that the analysis makes sense, is
reasonable, and does not have any leaps in logic.

Swarf came


Axis wore out.


Fuse blew out.




When continuing Why, stop analyzing a

possible cause if you could determine, based on
the investigation of actual products and
production site, that a phenomenon is not caused
by the possible cause.
Do not find causes in human mentality.
Ex: The operator was out of mind.
The operator was tired.
Do not use the word of bad and unclear words
in the sentences.