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Discussion on: Master The Five Whys Method for Problem-Solving as a Developer

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murrayvarey profile image
MurrayVarey

The Five Whys (or any similar system) is extremely useful. It's always worth digging deeper. I find myself repeatedly asking "What's the real problem here?"

That said, it's worth treading carefully -- depending on where you focus your questions, you can end up at very different conclusions. In your phone example, you could dig deeper on (a) the scooter, or (b) the unsecured phone, or (c) the busy Paris roads, or (d) the psycho driver who ran over your phone, and so on. If you get the wrong focus at the start, you can end up wasting a lot of time. (After all, there's not much you can do about those psycho drivers!)

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danilapetrova profile image
Danila Petrova Author • Edited on

I agree with you, depending on the questions you will reach different conclusions. However, isn't that the beauty of the method? You can explore multiple different options and gain an understanding of the bigger picture.

While some will lead to a dead-end such as not being able to control other people's actions or reactions (as with the driver), others will be helpful.

I find it particularly useful when I am trying to "kick" a bad habit. For example, my sweet tooth turned into a coping mechanism with stress. Over time it became an automatic action I did not think about when under stress.

By applying the five whys when I get the urge, I can "override" the initial impulse with a decision to opt for something healthy instead!

Feel free to try it in different situations, and always take the outcome with a grain of salt, so you can determine if it is accurate or not. And be sure to explore different interpretations.

Hope this helps!

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murrayvarey profile image
MurrayVarey

Yeah, you're absolutely right, it forces you to dig into questions that you might otherwise have skimmed over. And, as you've shown, it can be used in any part of life (though I think my sweet tooth needs more like eight or nine questions ...) I would just add that, for me, it's worth regularly checking -- "is this line of questioning helping me?"