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5 Whys

Root Cause Analysis, Ishikawa Diagrams and the 5 Whys

Root cause analysis (RCA) is a way of identifying the underlying source of a process or product failure so that the right solution can be identified. RCA can progress more quickly and effectively by pairing an Ishikawa diagram with the scientific method in the form of the well-known plan-do-check-act (PDCA) cycle to empirically investigate the…

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Case Study: Using the 5 Whys to Validate Assumptions

The effectiveness of any process improvement tool depends on the process improvement practitioners’ assessment of the situation, choice of the simplest tool and the creative use of the tool. This article provides an example of how a simple tool, the 5 Whys, was used to unearth an assumption embedded in a business process. Once the…

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Resource Page: The Whys and Wherefores of the 5 Whys

As parents of young children know, “Why?” is one of the most frequently asked questions they hear. And not just once. A girl asks, “Why is the sky blue?” and will proceed with further “Why?” demands to each subsequent answer for as long as the parent is willing (or able) to play along. As frustrating…

Reducing Misdirected Calls in Automated Payment Systems

While working on a maintenance project for a large U.S. telecommunications firm, information technology company Infosys Technologies Ltd. discovered that an unacceptably high percentage of calls in the clients’ automated payment system were being routed to the call center agents. The team conducted a DMAIC project, outlined here, to reduce the number of misdirected calls….

Medical Transcription Six Sigma Case Study

Today’s industrial black belt typically trains for six months. Seventy-five percent of this training time is spent learning theory, and the balance is spent in practice. Often when the black belt returns to the real world to tackle inefficiencies, he finds that there are no takers for his logic and passion – his Six Sigma entreaties fall on…

Determine the Root Cause: 5 Whys

Asking “Why?” may be a favorite technique of your 3-year-old child in driving you crazy, but it could teach you a valuable Six Sigma quality lesson. The 5 Whys is a technique used in the Analyze phase of the Six Sigma DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology. It is a great Six Sigma tool that…

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Newspaper Aims to Improve Printing: A TQM Case Study

Caught in an exploding market, with rapidly improving products, the management of a media organization in India realized that improving the quality of printing of its newspaper was imperative to survival and progress. The organization adopted total quality management (TQM) and has completed several improvements in office processes related to turnaround, which is so vital…

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5 Lean Tools and Principles to Integrate into Six Sigma

Increasingly, organizations that use Six Sigma are making an effort to integrate Lean into their existing process-improvement framework. For many, combining Six Sigma’s focus on process quality and Lean’s emphasis on turn-around time results in more high-impact, quick-hit projects. To gain this advantage, however, organizations must face a difficult obstacle: integrating Lean without creating ripples…

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Going Beyond the 5 Whys

“So what?” That’s all your CEO has to say after you present your latest Lean Six Sigma triumph. You gaze out over a deafeningly silent boardroom. Your team is stunned. While you try to comprehend the CEO’s demoralizing response, the other managers and administrators chime in: “Yeah, so what?” The above scenario might be an…

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Reveal Assumptions and Find Root Causes with Webbing

Six Sigma practitioners looking to clarify or explore a task, find root causes of a problem or develop their strategic thinking skills may want to consider using webbing, a valuable exploration tool. Similar to the 5 Whys, this tool encourages practitioners to ask a web of questions about a task or process in order to…

TQM Case Study: Newspaper Focuses on Customer Service

Quality in the total quality management (TQM) method is defined as customer delight. Customers are delighted when their needs are met or exceeded. The needs of the customer are: Product quality Delivery quality Service quality Cost value Improving customer service was the focus of two projects within the deployment of TQM in a mid-sized newspaper…

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The 5 Whys: A Simple Tool in Value Stream Analysis

Not so long ago in an organization not so far away, a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt not much different from many other Black Belts was running a value stream analysis. Creating the current state map was relatively easy since the participants understood their function and the way that information and inventory flowed along the…

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Is 5 Times Enough to Ask “Why?”

The 5 Whys approach to root cause analysis is by no means new, nor does it originate in Six Sigma. Yet it is often used in the Analyze phase (of DMAIC [Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control]), especially when significant data on the Xs is not available. Most of us have been there – we gather the…

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