I’m lucky to be in a marriage where arguing is an unlikely occurrence, but I've found that common Lean Six Sigma tactics, such as 5-Why Analysis and Fishbone diagrams, can come in handy when I’m trying to solve minor disagreements with my husband.
A 5-Why Analysis was developed by Toyota to solve defects in their vehicle process lines. The technique can help you diagnose the root cause of really any problem by prompting you to ask questions that explore the cause and effect relationships behind that problem.
Generally, asking five “why” questions about your initial problem will quickly reveal the main cause(s), without any in-depth statistical analysis. You may even find that you need less than the suggested five why questions to get to the root of your issue. However, there also might be times when you’ll find yourself asking more than five questions.
Let’s use a 5-Why Analysis to solve a problem a married couple is likely to face:
Problem: My wife or husband is unhappy with my cleanliness around the house.
-Why is your wife or husband unhappy with your cleanliness around the house?
I leave my wet towels on the bedroom floor instead of hanging them up to dry in the bathroom after I shower in the morning.
-Why do you leave your wet towels on the bedroom floor?
It’s convenient to set my towels on the bedroom floor while I change into my clothes.
-Why is it convenient for you to set your towels on the bedroom floor?
I’m in a hurry in the morning, and it’s faster to set my towels on the floor in the bedroom while I change than walk back into the bathroom and hang them up.
-Why are you in a hurry in the morning?
I’m still very tired when my alarm goes off, so I hit the snooze button several times before actually getting out of bed to start my day.
-Why are you so tired when your alarm goes off in the morning?
I go to bed too late.
Aha! After asking five “why’s,” it looks like the root cause is that after over-sleeping in the morning your spouse is too rushed to hang up towels. Of course, you could have kept going with questions to figure out why your spouse is getting to bed so late, but sometimes it’s not necessary to delve deep into the analysis when there is already a glaring solution.
In this case, your spouse should aim to get to bed earlier, so it’s easier to get up in the morning—which will allow for a less-hurried morning routine. (I know, easier said than done!)
While it’s up for debate whether or not a 5-Why Analysis will actually help you solve major disputes with your spouse, the tool can be a light-hearted solution for minor disagreements. I think it can be a good problem-solving method for use both at work and even at home. But then again, what do I know? I'm only a newlywed ...
If you prefer visuals or a more organized method for completing your 5-Why Analysis, Fishbone diagrams are another option that will help you do a similar type of brainstorming. Minitab offers five Fishbone templates that are built into Quality Companion process improvement software.
Have you used 5-Why Analysis or Fishbone Diagrams to solve problems outside of work?
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