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The 5 Whys for Excel, Google Sheets, PDF

Download the free 5 whys template to identify the root cause of business challenges and develop practical solutions.

    Download Free Template

    Available for Excel & Google Sheets & PDF

    Template Highlights

    • Access the 5 Whys template in Excel, Google Sheets, or PDF format for easy use and compatibility.
    • Identify the root causes of issues in your project, allowing for effective problem-solving.
    • Utilize the template to develop strategies tailored to each identified problem, enhancing project performance.
    • The template guides you through a systematic process of asking ‘why’ five times, ensuring a thorough exploration of any problem.
    • Print the free 5 Whys template in your desired format via Google Sheets, Excel or PDF, or share it via email for collaborative problem-solving.


    What is the "5 Whys"?

    This is a technique used for root cause analysis. In essence, “why?” is asked five times sequentially to determine cause-and-effect relationships and solve problems. 

    This iterative process can be used alone or in combination with other methods to achieve the desired results.

    Advantages of the 5 Whys

    Problems rarely fix themselves. When you’re proactive about tackling a problem, you stand a better chance at fixing it and preventing it from repeating itself. 

    But here’s why the 5 Whys is particularly useful:

    • Simplicity: The 5 whys approach requires no complex skills — if you can ask why five times, you’re off to a great start. 
    • Low cost: You won’t need anything more than a pen and paper (or a (or a free 5 Whys template) to put this technique to work.  
    • Ability to uncover hidden causes: When you ask “why?” sequentially, you can understand problems and their causes at a deeper level. Less obvious — but nevertheless important — causes of a problem might reveal themselves through your root cause analysis.
    • Effectiveness: It’s not guaranteed to find the cause of every problem. But it’s still in use today over 90 years after its introduction, so it must be doing something right. Use a 5 Whys template to ensure you’re set up for success.   

    How to use the 5 Whys technique

    1. Start with a problem. Write down (or type out) the issue at hand. Your problem could be, for example, an IT system failure.
    2. Assemble your problem-solving team. You might be confronting a problem alone or spearheading a multi-departmental undertaking.
    3. Ask why your initial problem happened. For example, “Why did the IT system go down?” Think logically about this to get the best results. The answer could be, “The IT system was hacked.”
    4. When you’ve answered this question, ask “why?” again. For example, you could ask, “Why was the system hacked?” Perhaps the IT system was outdated or someone’s credentials were stolen (the cause of 49% of breaches in 2023).
    5. Repeat the previous step three more times. This should bring you to your root cause. 
    6. Write down your plan for corrective action. The final step could be as simple as sending an email or as complicated as a system overhaul. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    The 5 Whys template helps business teams to identify, analyze, and resolve the root cause of a problem to implement long-term solutions and avoid issue recurrence. It helps follow through on the effectiveness of the solutions and improve employee accountability and productivity

    Japanese inventor Sakichi Toyoda developed this interrogative technique. He was the founder of Toyota Industries, and his son established the famous Toyota Motor Corporation. Both companies are now part of the Toyota Group. 

    Certainly! This template is completely free of charge and can be customized to suit your requirements.

    You can try it out on any problem, be it personal or professional. Today, the 5 whys is used in the well-known Six Sigma DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control) methodology, which is applied in many industries.