Course Content
A critical thinking approach
We all make decisions and solve problems each day – in both our personal lives and workplaces. Some decisions are quick and easy to make. Perhaps the problem or issue you encounter is a familiar one that has a tried and tested solution. However, often times the solution to your issue is not straight forward and its resolution requires more than your intuition. Some decisions you make are critical, whereas others are non-critical.
Making and reviewing decisions
Making and reviewing critical decisions is vital because it directly impacts outcomes in personal and professional life. Thoroughly assessing options, risks, and potential consequences helps avoid costly mistakes and achieve goals effectively. Regularly reviewing decisions ensures ongoing relevance and adaptability, particularly in dynamic environments. It promotes learning from past experiences and allows for necessary adjustments, enhancing decision-making skills and the ability to navigate complex situations successfully.
Assessment assistance
BSBCRT611 Apply critical thinking for complex problem solving
About Lesson

The 5 Whys technique is a problem-solving method that involves asking “why” repeatedly to get to the root cause of an issue. It encourages in-depth analysis by iteratively probing the reasons behind a problem. For each answer to “why,” another “why” is asked until a fundamental cause is identified. By exploring multiple layers of causation, it helps uncover not only the immediate symptoms of a problem but also the underlying factors contributing to it. This technique is valuable in process improvement, troubleshooting, and problem resolution, as it allows organisations to address the root causes rather than just addressing surface-level symptoms, leading to more effective and long-lasting solutions.

Further reading

The 5 Whys analysis is a simple yet powerful tool for identifying the root cause of a problem. Here’s a breakdown of how to apply it:

  1. Define the Problem: Clearly articulate the issue you’re trying to solve. Be specific and avoid vague statements.

  2. Ask “Why?” – First Layer: Ask “Why” this problem is occurring. The answer should explain the immediate cause of the issue.

  3. Ask “Why?” Again – Digging Deeper: For the answer you obtained in step 2, ask “Why” this is happening. This delves deeper into the underlying cause.

  4. Repeat “Why?” Three More Times: Continue asking “Why?” for each subsequent answer you receive. This helps peel back the layers and reach the root cause.

  5. Identify the Root Cause: The root cause is the fundamental reason behind the problem. It should be a systemic issue, not just a symptom.


Here are some additional tips for using the 5 Whys analysis effectively:

  • Gather Information: Before starting, gather relevant information about the problem. This could involve talking to stakeholders, reviewing data, or observing processes.
  • Don’t Jump to Conclusions: Avoid assuming the first answer you receive is the root cause. Keep asking “Why?” until you reach a deeper level.
  • Think Outside the Box: Don’t be afraid to challenge assumptions and explore different perspectives.
  • Document the Process: Write down each question and answer during the analysis. This helps visualise the cause-and-effect chain.


By applying the 5 Whys method systematically, you can move beyond surface-level issues and uncover the true root cause of a problem. This empowers you to develop more effective solutions for lasting improvement.