Problem solving with 5 Whys

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  • Business

Asking questions


In this lesson, we want to focus on a very popular problem solving technique called 5 Whys (5W). If your students know something about Six Sigma or Lean, they should be familiar with this technique. Otherwise, they will learn a useful method for problem solving and practise asking questions.

B2 / Upper Intermediate30 minStandard LessonPrintable & Digital$6 Plan


The lesson starts with a quick warm-up speaking task about problems and how students approach solving them. Then, they watch a short video introducing 5 Whys, a problem-solving method developed by Sakichi Toyoda, a Japanese inventor and industrialist, and answer the questions.


Afterwards, your students will practise using the technique based on an example. First, they need to study the example and then fill in the other graph by asking 5 why questions to get to the root cause. Answers in this task may vary. Let your students be creative there. The aim of the task is to get them familiar with using 5 Whys. Finally, in the last task, students will use the technique to find root causes for problems they’ve had at work.


This worksheet goes well with the following lesson plans:

  1. How to use questioning techniques to get better answers
  2. Questions no one knows the answers to



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