The Power of the Five Whys

Julio Leal
2 min readApr 6, 2022

It is said that by asking ‘Why’ five consecutive times you are very likely to find the root cause for most issues. It works like this: for every answer to the Why question, you ask again ‘Why?’, and the last answer will unveil the root cause. This is extremely helpful when your work is about fixing things that do not work or do not work well enough, as you focus on finding the right solution to the right problem, as opposed to finding the right solution to the problem your client thinks they have.

I recently spoke with a client complaining about their translation management system and asking for alternatives to solve the problems they had been having for once and for all. However, after a long conversation in which I brought up the magic of the five Whys, the client realized that the reason for their problems was not actually in the TMS per se, but in how it had been implemented based on an incomplete description of their requirements. They had basically enabled hundreds of features they were not using and that was creating a lot of confusion in the teams.

So next time you are in a similar situation, try this approach and let me know how it goes!

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Julio Leal

Localization enthusiast who has been helping corporations create, develop and execute localization strategies for more than 15 years. Father of mensatio.me