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Management Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is a form of problem solving, Here it applied to repair failed processes. It is a logical, systematic search for the source of a problem in order to solve it, and make the process operational again. Troubleshooting is needed to identify the symptoms. Determining the most likely cause is a process of elimination, eliminating potential causes of a problem. Finally, troubleshooting requires confirmation that the solution restores the product or process to its working state. In general, troubleshooting is the identification of diagnosis of "trouble" in the management flow of a corporation or a system caused by a failure of some kind. The problem is initially described as symptoms of malfunction, and troubleshooting is the process of determining and remedying the causes of these symptoms. A system can be described in terms of its expected, desired or intended behaviour (usually, for artificial systems, its purpose). Events or inputs to the system are expected to generate specific results or outputs. (For example, selecting the "print" option from various computer applications is intended to result in a hardcopy emerging from some specific device). Any unexpected or undesirable behaviour is a symptom. Troubleshooting is the process of isolating the specific cause or causes of the symptom. Frequently the symptom is a failure of the product or process to produce any results. (Nothing was printed, for example). Corrective action can then be taken to prevent further failures of a similar kind.

5 Whys

5 Whys is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause and effect relationships underlying a particular problem. The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem by repeating the question "Why?" Each question forms the basis of the next question. The "5" in the name derives from an anecdotal observation on the number of iterations needed to resolve the problem.


  • The vehicle will not start. (the problem)
  1. Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
The questioning for this example could be taken further to a sixth, seventh, or higher level, but five iterations of asking why is generally sufficient to get to a root cause. The key is to encourage the trouble-shooter to avoid assumptions and logic traps and instead trace the chain of causality in direct increments from the effect through any layers of abstraction to a root cause that still has some connection to the original problem. Note that, in this example, the fifth why suggests a broken process or an alterable behaviour, which is indicative of reaching the root-cause level.

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