· retrospective

Retrospective: The 5 whys

Last week my colleague Pat Fornasier ran our team’s fortnightly retrospective and one of the exercises we did was ‘the 5 whys’.

I’ve always wanted to see how the 5 why’s would pan out but could never see how you could fit it into a normal retrospective.

Pat was able to do this by using the data gathered by an earlier timeline exercise where the team had to plot the main events that had happened over the last 6 months.

We ended up with 5 key areas and split into groups to explore those topics further.

Wikipedia describes the 5 whys like so:

The 5 Whys is a questions-asking method used to explore the cause/effect relationships underlying a particular problem. Ultimately, the goal of applying the 5 Whys method is to determine a root cause of a defect or problem.

My group had to investigate the topic ‘Why are we so obsessed with points?’.

These were some of my observations from the exercise:

I tried looking for a video to see a real life example of a 5 whys discussion being facilitated but I wasn’t able to find one.

Perryn pointed me to a chat log on the cucumber wiki where Aslak asks the 5 whys to someone trying to articulate why they want to have a login feature in their application but I’d be interested in seeing more examples if anyone knows any.

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