The Five Whys

1 minute read

Great article from the currently totally-on-fire Eric Ries.

One of the major things we’ve learned about user stories, even if we’ve never articulated it, is about “popping the why stack.” In essence, you ask “Why ?” a number of times and, if at the end of those five whys, the answer isn’t increasing revenue, protecting revenue, or reducing costs, that feature you’re writing probably isn’t worth the time.

I never realized the idea came from Toyota where it’s practically a gospel part of their keizen process in improving quality and reducing defects.

Obviously, your first priority is to get it back up. But as soon as the crisis is past, you have the discipline to have a post-mortem in which you start asking why.

The next step is this: you have to commit to make a proportional investment in corrective action at every level of the analysis.

I’m totally lurving this idea and going to bounce it off my team, because we’re great at hustling to fix things but slow(er) to take corrective strategic actions which will prevent things happening again. Wondering how they’ll go for this idea. Actually thinking going to try it on a project retrospective we’ve got coming up as well with a cross departmental team.

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