Project Exxen and 5 Whys Principle
Exxen project, a Turkish online broadcasting platform, was recently launched. As both the expectations of the people from the project and the popularity of the project are quite high, the platform was met with great interest and was examined as soon as it opened.
It seems that the project was launched even though it was not ready yet and it was full of deficiencies in both functional and security aspects. This situation drew the attention of the software community and people started to share the mistakes they found on social media.
Immediately afterwards, discussions began about who made the “real” mistake and who should be defended. While some interpreted this situation as the software developers’ fault, others claimed that it was a planning error and that the processes could be run more smoothly.
I think this whole discussion was actually a summary of similar sufferings in the industry. And these reactions of people in different situations are also quite familiar. When there are big mistakes like this, it’s pretty easy to turn it into a blame game.
As a rational organization, you should be able to find mistakes and focus on how to solve them with minimum effort and develop an action plan. And its not that easy when there is so much pressure from social media and other people / departments. But what is the way to find and fix real bugs in such an environment? Let me introduce you 5 Whys Principle :).
5 Whys is an iterative technique to identify the root cause of a problem. It is simply asking “Why”s repeatedly and peeling the layers off one by one from a problem. The root cause may be lied in a 6th or a deeper level but in general the technique tells you can get in to the root cause in 5.
In an example like this situation:
1. Why did we failed on this project this bad?
- Because we’ve shipped it though it way not ready
2. Why was the project not ready on the specified date?
- Because the team could not reach the deadline
3. Why the team couldn’t reach it?
- Team members tell us they have dealt with a lot of unplanned chores
4. Why was there that much unplanned issues?
- Because there were lots of new-comers on the team, they could not adopted yet. Some team members need to help them or fix their mistakes
5. Why couldn’t they adopt?
- Because we don’t have an onboarding process and we’ve hired too much people recently
It may continue like this or if you believe you’ve find the real problem than you can stop and think about the possible actions. You should stop asking why when there are no useful answer.
The technique is still dependent on the knowledge of the interrogator and the reliability of the information coming to her, but offers a method that can save a lot of first-error.
Thanks for reading.