How five whys, or Critical Thinking, pragmatic approach improve civil engineering projects.

Before we talk about how the five whys of pragmatic approach can improve civil engineering projects, let’s first have a look at what Pragmatic Approach is. 

The pragmatic approach refers to taking decisions on practical reflections rather than theoretical ones. A person who opts pragmatic approach manages things practically. The emphasis of the Pragmatic approach is on logic or reality. A person who considers things from a pragmatic view means that he doesn’t apply abstract terms. When it comes to handling problems, a pragmatic person works on those problems in a logical way. Also, looking at things rationally rather than emotionally helps in critical thinking

Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Critical Thinking
Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing.

At present, pragmatism has impacted education immensely. It is a viable and utilitarian way of thinking. It makes action the premise of all instructing and learning. It makes learning intentional and injects a feeling of reality into education.

The pragmatism approach can bring evolution in many fields because it deals with logic and rationality. When we look at civil engineering, unpredicted issues might happen in any team, system, or procedure. Such issues can have an unfathomable impact on the outcome. Nonetheless, problems are only indications of more profound issues. Fixing an issue rapidly may appear favourable, but it doesn’t secure your work from continual errors. Temporarily you can solve the problem but it remains there at deeper levels, this is the reason that it is indispensable to locate the root cause and deal with it appropriately. Once the root cause is eradicated, no more time, effort, and resources will be utilized to resolve the recurring problems. 

Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Critical Thinking

While in the mid of a construction project, a civil engineer may get stuck in issues like: 

  1. Material Shortage
  2. Maintenance 
  3. Approvals 
  4. Scarcity of Labours.

All these issues can directly impact the project delivery at the scheduled time. In such situations, either everyone in the team gets blamed, or all the blame is put on the product. However, that may not be true in all cases. It is significant to find the real cause of the damage so that it can be rectified in the future. 

Utilizing the 5 Whys will assist you with identifying the real cause of any issue and save the procedure from repeating faults and disappointments.

Answering 5 Whys

Curiosity is the key to getting the right answer. The 5 ways of the pragmatic approach refer to asking 5 times ‘WHY” in case any issue arises. When you repeat Whys 5 times, the kind of problem and its appropriate answer or solution turns out to be clear. And that too effectively and in time. 

Not every problem has a single root cause, in case there is more than one root cause, the technique must be repeated for every assumed cause. This entire method aims to reach the real underlying issue so that it can be solved. Basically, you just continue to inquire “Why?” each time you find a contributing reason and the hypothesis is that after 5 rounds you will have reached or be close to arriving at the underlying issue. 

This technique has to be very well organized so the team can reach the right root cause and not stop at any other cause which apparently seems like the real cause but is not the root cause. 

For instance: 

  • Why the machines went shut down? Because the main wire had electricity issues. 
  • Why these electricity issues are arising? Because the machine has been used for a long time, and needs to get replaced. 
  • Why the machine wasn’t yet replaced? Because it took time for the approvals.
  • Why it took long for the approvals? Because it was rectified late, just before the project completion day, and hence the proposal for machine replacement was not sent timely. 
  • Why it was rectified late? Because the engineers were focusing on other projects and gave less time to this project and machinery related to it. 

Now after using this 5 whys technique, the team leader can reach the real cause that shows human error and negligence. In other circumstances, it would have been declared that the machine had technical issues and hence the entire blame could easily be put on the product. In case the team doesn’t get to the root cause, the machine would keep on obstructing the construction projects due to technical issues and time and resources would be continually utilized to fix the fault temporarily. 

One of the vital elements for the successful execution of the strategy is to settle on an educated choice. This implies that the decision-making procedure should be founded on a canny comprehension of what is really occurring in the work. 

All in all, the underlying driver examination procedure should incorporate individuals with reasonable experience. Consistently, they can give you the most important data in regards to any issue that shows up in their subject matter. For instance, the individual heading the evaluation team would better know the rationality and possibility of the identified root cause. 

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The Manner of Following The 5 Whys Technique 

As mentioned above the 5 whys technique should be very well organized to reach the real cause of the issue. Following suggestions can help you to carry out the process smoothly. 

  • Make A Team

Individuals from different departments can make this procedure even more effective. This is so because these individuals bring in exceptional perspectives and are unbiased. Make sure that the entire team is well aware of the evaluation process. Ample information from different sources inside the organization will help you in making a rational decision. 

  • Elaborate The Issue

Talk about the issue with the group and make clear issue articulation. It will assist you with characterizing the extent of the issue you will examine.

This is significant because researching a wide extension issue might be a tedious exercise with obscured limits. Attempt to be just about as engaged as conceivable to track down a successful solution eventually.

  • Inquire Why

Make one individual to lead the entire procedure. This group head will pose the inquiries and attempt to keep the group-centred. The appropriate responses should be founded on realities and genuine information, rather than on emotional suppositions. The real facts will help in critical thinking and hence reaching the root cause.  

Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Critical Thinking
Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing.

Let’s talk about two tips that can help you in the process of 5 Whys. 

Tip#1 

Try not to ask such a large number of Whys. Assuming you continue onward, you might wind up getting huge loads of irrational ideas and protests, which isn’t the reason. Zero in on observing the main driver.

Tip#2 

Sometimes this may happen that the problem you are dealing with has multiple underlying root causes. In such a situation, the 5 Whys investigation will look more like a network with various branches. This might even assist you with recognizing and eradicating company issues that have adverse consequences on the general performance of the company. 


Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing, Critical Thinking
Estimate, Estimation, Civil Engineering, Cost Management, Whole Life Cycle Costing.

The 5 Whys analysis technique is instrumental in identifying the root cause of the problem. If executed in the right manner, it can give you the right problem and the solution. In civil engineering projects, many issues can arise at crucial times of projects that can have an adverse impact. To save yourself from the distressing situations, it’s best to reach the real cause of the issue in time. 

2 comments on “How five whys, or Critical Thinking, pragmatic approach improve civil engineering projects.
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    1. Civil Bites says:

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