5 Why (5W) is iterative question asking technique used to explore cause-effect relationship underlying a particular problem.

Technique has been originally developed by Sakichi Toyoda and used in Toyota Motor Corporation during the evolution of manufacturing methodologies. It gained big popularity and is used by such methodologies like Kaizen, Lean, Six Sigma.

Not always you will need 5 questions to get to the root cause of the problem. Sometimes 4 questions are enough and sometimes more will be necessary.

Survey research is often starting point or one of the stages of work on business problem. That is why we decided to present on our blog tool and techniques that work best with online surveys and questionnaires, but also could be used alone or with combination with other management tools.


Example of 5W technique usage, taken from the book "Let my people go surfing" *

Patagonia sales of all products in all channels on Japanese market went down by 30% in January - December 2003.

  1. Question 1. Why?
    Answer. Big stocks of product X.
  2. Question 2. How our other products are doing?
    Answer. Their sales also went down.
  3. Question 3. How our competition is doing? Is their business also down?
    Answer. Their sales also are also down.
  4. Question 4. Why?
    Answer. The weather is usually warm. Clients are not interested in winter products.


  • simple to use tool, easy to use in any organization
  • usage doesn't require any training
  • encourages analytical thinking and look-and-find a solution approach

* Let my people go surfing, the education of reluctant businessman, by Yvon Chouinard (2006)

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