Identify the Problem
The importance of identifying the problem accurately is in the same context as that of diagnosing an illness or health disorder to determine the most effective treatment.
Since the ultimate goal of a root cause analysis is the prevention of the occurrence or the recurrence of an unlikely event, the accuracy of the resulting origin and its symptoms is dependent on the problem stated.
In a 5-Whys cause map, the arrow points to the problem and not the other way around, since it is read and interpreted as "all causal factors and its origin, lead to the occurrence of the problem".
Analyze the Causes
Prior to this exercise, answers to a structured set of questions are gathered and evaluated as possible causes for a specific problem. They are then presented in the cause map as answers to the “Why" question.
In the image at the left, study the progression of the cause map. Each event is linked to the problem as it represents the answer to the why question.
If the effect was caused by two or more factors, it is quite important to still present them as a linear cause and effect relationship. The next image illustrates this particular step.
The exact number of why questions that an individual asks in an actual analysis of causal factors can be arbitrary.
Posing the questions should not be limited to five but the questioning should persist until it reaches a point in which asking the question why is no longer necessary or sensible. This denotes therefore, that the last answer presented in the cause and effect diagram represents the root cause of the problem.