Kipling Checklist

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When,
And How and Where and Who.
– Rudyard Kipling

Simply asking Who?, What?, Why?, When?, Where?, and How? can have brilliant results. The five Ws and one H are an incredibly useful tool for root cause analysis (i.e. identifying the underlying cause of a problem or inefficiency), as well as for encouraging engagement in the Lean process.

The Kipling Checklist is an objective diagnostic method that removes the negativity associated with blame, which so often characterises the process of determining the issues effecting a process. When combined with the 5 Whys it is an even more powerful technique, as it gives both depth and breadth to the problem-identifying and -solving stages.

In addition, asking these questions can bolster engagement and understanding; they help the facilitator understand the process better, they get people talking, they encourage dialogue and idea-sharing between team members, and the answers get people thinking about how things can be improved.

Next time you come across a problem or something that you aren’t sure about ask yourself (e.g.) Who are the important people in this process?, What is the end goal?, Why is this?, How can it be improved?

Download our Kipling Checklist poster here.


5 Whys

5 Whys is a very simple technique to help identify the root causes of a problem. Asking the question ‘Why?’ five times (more if necessary) encourages people to delve below the surface to the underlying reasons for a problem.

To make the most and quickest progress, ensure people understand the technique is focused on activities and not on them as individuals or their team. A no-blame culture is essential here.

In any circumstances where underlying causes or influences are not immediately apparent ask the question ‘Why?’ until the answer is clear.

5 Whys is also a useful technique to:

Encourage experienced people at work to share their knowledge and expertise with others. 
Use during coaching to encourage the learner to explore their own reasoning and thought processes.