If you’ve been a visitor to SchoolAdvancement, you’ll know that according to systems thinking pioneer Peter Senge, a complete system has 5 elements.  Recently, I’ve been doing some research into Six Sigma process improvement, and was pleasantly surprised to see this article on “The 5 Whys” as part of the Analysis phase of the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, Control) methodology.  (It’s a process that’s also referred to in my book which deals with creating a marketing plan for your school.  Check it out by visiting this link!).

Rather than reprint the article verbatim, I chose to include the link to the article on www.sixsigma.com in this article.  You can access the article from the text block that resulted below.


It’s also interesting to note that the 5 Why’s are can be used individually or as a part of what’s called the “fishbone” (also known as the cause and effect or Ishikawa) diagram. The fishbone diagram helps to explore all potential or real causes resulting in a single defect or failure. Once all inputs are established on the fishbone, you can use the 5 Whys technique to drill down to the root causes.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram:

Ishikawa diagrams (also called fishbone diagrams, herringbone diagrams, cause-and-effect diagrams, or Fishikawa) are causal diagrams created by Kaoru Ishikawa (1968) that show the causes of a specific eventCommon uses of the Ishikawa diagram are product design and quality defect prevention to identify potential factors causing an overall effect. Each cause or reason for imperfection is a source of variation. Causes are usually grouped into major categories to identify these sources of variation. The categories typically include

  • People: Anyone involved with the process

  • Methods: How the process is performed and the specific requirements for doing it, such as policies, procedures, rules, regulations and laws

  • Machines: Any equipment, computers, tools, etc. required to accomplish the job

  • Materials: Raw materials, parts, pens, paper, etc. used to produce the final product

  • Measurements: Data generated from the process that are used to evaluate its quality

  • Environment: The conditions, such as location, time, temperature, and culture in which the process operates

Interestingly, the “causes” are categorized as “The 5 M’s” in the manufacturing industry:

  • Machine (technology)
  • Method (process)
  • Material (Includes Raw Material, Consumables and Information.)
  • Man Power (physical work)/Mind Power (brain work): Kaizens, Suggestions
  • Measurement (Inspection)

In marketing, the typical 4 P’s (Product, Price, Place and Promotion) have been expanded to the 8 P’s to also include People/personnel, Process, Physical Evidence, and Publicity.

Personally, I’d also add a 9th P – Position – since “Place” can either refer to a business’ or organization’s physical location or, in the case of placement, “where” a product is placed on a store’s shelf or in a particular section of a retail location.  It can also refer to the place the business or service occupies in the consumer’s mind, which is more correctly defined as “Position.”

There are also 4 S’s which are seen as categories of caused within the service industry, signified by Surroundings, Suppliers, Systems, and Skills.  May I also suggest there is a 5th “S,” Significance, which addresses such issues as human interaction vs. technology assistance.  For instance, what difference would be created if a company would have a person answer phone calls, rather than a recorded menu, or a voice-recognition system which has a caller responding to a human-sounding voice rather than a caller choosing a number or extension to self-direct their call?