I Got 99 Problems…to Solve!

Problem solving. It isn’t for everybody.

But with the following little trick, anyone can become a master problem solver instantly. No exercise. No pills. No gross protein powders…oh wait, wrong article. But seriously, this approach really works! So what is it?

I first learned about the 5 Whys Approach to problem solving a couple years ago in my leadership and organizational behavior course at Grand Valley. Here’s how it works:

Write down your problem statement
Ask why that problem happens
If this doesn’t identify the root cause, ask why again
Repeat about 5 times (you can repeat more or less, so long as you identify the root cause)
Knowing the root cause, develop a solution that corrects the ACTUAL problem

​To put this in to perspective, here is an example:

The reason this approach works so well, is that with each “why”, you eliminate more and more of the false-positives that are hiding the real root cause.

The next time you’re faced with a problem,  give the 5 Why’s approach a try and make sure to let me know about your experience in the comments below!

And just in case the title got the song stuck in your head, here’s my favorite cover! (Warning: explicit lyrics)

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