What, why, how?

Came across three great questions that capture the essence of root cause analysis and preventative action the other day. These famous three questions also appear in another order in popular knowledge today, of which I will make some mention at the end. But first take the three questions in this order to get at the essence of root cause analysis and corrective/preventive actions. These are powerful techniques to error-proof virtually everything.

“A car tipped over and crashed in Winnipeg.”

What happened? Why did it happen? How can you prevent cars from tipping over in the future?

Let us use the same strategy to a general ecological question.

“Lake Winnipeg is in the early stages of invasion by Zebra Mussels.”

What happened? Why did it happen? How can we get rid of them?/ How can we prevent zebra mussels from reaching other lakes of Manitoba?


Now, let me phrase a few business situations.

Received wrong parts.

Ordered 10 pieces, but received only 8.

The parts received are torn and scratched.

The surface finish is poor.

Well, we could apply the three questions to best effect in every question above.

Question-1, What? : Describe the situation.

Question -2, Why?: What is the root cause?

Question-3, How? : What is the corrective and preventive action?

Now that reminds me of the golden circles, popularized by Simon Sinek. Anything one does must first have a reason for doing. Reason is the motivator.




That may be true for people’s actions, particularly when selling a new product or an idea.

Question-1, “Why?”: Need to get in shape. I love outdoor.

Question-2, “How?”: Aerobic exercises are good for getting in shape.

Question-3, “What?”: I should jog half an hour every day.






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