Sometimes, though, we need more than surface information. We already know that beginning a question with ‘why’ is a step up from starting with ‘who’ or ‘what’. The answer will likely be deeper, more nuanced, and more thoughtful. Going a step further to employ ‘The Five Whys’ (aka 5Y) strategy, though, will get at the core of the issue.
A Strategy From the 1930’s
Developed in the 1930’s by Sakichi Toyoda, the Japanese industrialist and founder of Toyota Industries, this technique is still popular. In fact, Toyota Industries continues to use ‘The Five Whys’ to solve problems today. Toyota has a reputation for solving problems not in the boardroom, but on the shop floor.
When To Use 5Y
This strategy is excellent for drilling down into problems ranging from the simple to the complex. When a student is struggling, or a system isn’t working, 5Y can typically provide a relatively quick and simple solution.
How to Use 5Y
This technique is prevalent throughout the business world, but can streamline the problems solving process in education and life, as well. Typically, a team approach is used. This may or may not fit every situation, but one or two heads is usually better than one.
Step one is to define the problem - obviously the student is a major player in this discussion, and his buy-in is essential.
Once the problem has been identified, the ‘whys’ begin. Here is an example:
Tom, a fifth grader, isn’t having a great day. When it was time for the reading group, he was unprepared. Now he’s lost points and is misbehaving as a result of losing face with peers.
Problem: Tom isn’t prepared for his reading group- he hasn’t done the reading or the assignment.
Why? He left his book at school.
Why? He didn’t put the homework in his planner.
Why? He was distracted when it was time to pack up for the day.
Why? His friends were goofing around with him and he joined in.
Okay - so this is the essential reason - Tom is disorganized. The solution to this problem might be any of the following:
By talking with Tom and landing on a solution, this problem can conceivably never recur.
The 5Y is a simple, straightforward, solution-oriented technique that is flexible enough to address nearly any problem, whether it occurs in a Fortune 500 company, a middle school, or even the family room at home.
About My Guest Blogger
- Classroom Teacher
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