Five Whys Lessons Learned


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Lessons about introducing the five whys method at IGN.

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Five Whys Lessons Learned

  1. Five Whys Lessons Learned <ul><li>Introducing five whys in established business </li></ul><ul><li>Tony Ford | @tony4d | March 1, 2011 </li></ul>
  2. Origin <ul><li>The five whys is a lean startup technique introduced to entrepreneurs and software developers by Eric Ries </li></ul><ul><li>Like most of the lean startup principles it’s roots are in the Toyota Production System - preserve value with less work by eliminating waste </li></ul>
  3. IGN wants to learn how to become more lean <ul><li>We invited Eric Ries to speak at IGN in early December 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>One obvious and cheap thing to implement right away was five whys </li></ul><ul><li>Tony Ford was selected as the first (humble) five whys master </li></ul><ul><li>In the spirit of lean we have conducted many five whys sessions and learned a lot </li></ul>
  4. What is the five whys technique?
  5. What is most important? <ul><li>Five whys encourages us to spend a portion of our time addressing problems in ways that maximize the value output and avoid waste. </li></ul><ul><li>The sweet spot between being too busy to do anything and insisting we must spend a lot of time correcting. </li></ul><ul><li>We are most successful when we find human process problems we can correct. These are the real root causes. </li></ul><ul><li>This isn’t about blame, it’s about learning together . </li></ul>
  6. We started off pretty rough <ul><li>Shove everything through the five whys! </li></ul><ul><li>Early examples: Huge list of previous issues, NIB, babes legal issues </li></ul><ul><li>We learned </li></ul>
  7. Early lessons <ul><li>Don’t shove your baggage into the process. Send new problems into the process as they come up </li></ul><ul><li>The session should always be kicked off with two things </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ask if there are five whys n00bs at the session. If so, take 5 minutes to explain it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clearly state the problem we’re trying to solve </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Use the wiki to document each session. Sticky notes and emails are waste. </li></ul>
  8. Our first feeling of success <ul><li>Native iOS project slip five why session was the first time I knew we had to keep doing this. </li></ul><ul><li>We identified real human problems and came up with good proportional investments. </li></ul><ul><li>This is about learning and doing . </li></ul>
  9. More bumps in the road, more learning <ul><li>We kept learning, but we forgot about doing. </li></ul><ul><li>The five whys master has two major functions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Coordinate, run, and document the sessions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow up on proportional investments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The sessions optimize learning what we should invest in improving. The sessions are waste if we don’t actually spend time improving anything afterwards. </li></ul>
  10. Later lessons <ul><li>The wiki is great for documentation but not great for getting things done. Use pivotal tracker for proportional investments. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>The five whys master should be responsible for follow up on the proportional investments that come out of their sessions. </li></ul>
  11. Recent success <ul><li>The five whys on our recent blogs outage is a great example. </li></ul><ul><li>We shared it with our audience on our blog: </li></ul>
  12. wisdom++ <ul><li>We need to scale the process with more masters. I have not had time to do all sessions. </li></ul><ul><li>Schedule 30 minutes for a session, you’ll need it. </li></ul><ul><li>The sessions should be held immediately following the problem symptom. The longer you wait the less value the session has (and you’ll waste more time). </li></ul>
  13. wisdom++ <ul><li>Five is a guide. It is there to help us with a minimum. Avoid too many. </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid unnecessary branches by keeping answers as close to the questions as possible. The goal isn’t to list problems, it’s about quickly identifying a root cause. </li></ul><ul><li>Invest proportionally for the cause. “Don’t do too much and don’t do nothing.” </li></ul>
  14. wisdom++ <ul><li>The five whys master has ownership and authority for the sessions and proportional investments. </li></ul><ul><li>We tried sessions on a lot of different types of problems and got tripped up. Stick with website outages until you’re comfortable with the process. </li></ul><ul><li>Processes fail, not people. </li></ul>
  15. Excellent Lean Startup & Five Whys Resources <ul><li>Follow me on Twitter: </li></ul><ul><li>Follow Eric Ries on Twitter: </li></ul><ul><li>Five whys blog posts from Eric Ries: </li></ul>