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Asking Why Until You Find Your Construction Project's Problem

A pair of glasses sitting on top of a blurry document.

Problems arise in any type of project, if anything, that is an inevitable constant. However, we should not be weary or scared of facing these problems, rather we must be prepared to find the root cause of the problem, solve it, and learn from it. There's an excellent methodology to get to the root cause: ask "why" enough times to get there. Find out how this simple question can help your construction project here. 

Who would have thought that such a simple question as "why?" would solve major issues that cost thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars? Then again, the simplest solution is usually the best one. Asking "why" is actually a key principle in Toyota's Kaizen, which we have talked about before, and has been replicated in multiple industries across the globe. In this article, we go deeper into this three lettered question. Learn the dos and don'ts surrounding this principle. 


When something is amiss, we might try to find someone to point a finger at. Not only does this not solve the problem, but it also places a strain in the fabric of your organization. Accountability is about assigning responsibility to team members, and should something go wrong, this person should be in charge of asking why did this happen until they find the root of the cause. Problems will show up for sure, what matters is how quickly and effectively they can be solved. 

Asking why at least 5 times

Toyota's Kaizen has turned the world on its head when if comes to problem solving. The methodology is simply to ask "why" at least 5 times. If, for example, an order of dry wall did not make it on time at the site, you should start asking why, like this:

Project manager: "Why didn't it make it on time?"

Supplier: "Because we were out of dry wall"

Project manager: "Why were you out of dry wall?"

Supplier: "Because we had a large order before, and so we ran out of stock"

Project manager: "Why didn't you re-stock in time to deliver on time?"

Supplier: "Because we thought we could produce new materials on time"

Project manger: "Why couldn't you produce more on time?"

Supplier: "Because we didn't have enough man power"

Project manager: "Why didn't you have enough man power?"

Supplier: "Because we are a small company"

You can go on if you'd like, but from this example we draw a few conclusions. You can either choose a bigger company as a supplier, or ask the supplier to give you a heads up when this happens.

Keep a record of what you have learned

Keep a record of what you have learned from past issues. Inform other team members, and integrate these solutions in your working style or framework. These lessons learned will avoid future mistakes, save you money, and will help you build a more experienced and knowledgeable team. 

So now you know, just ask why and avoid jumping to conclusions before hand. 

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