5 Whys’ Mind Map


Step 1: Label your emotions

Write down five emotions you’re feeling right now on a blank page. Circle each emotion.

Step 2: Keep asking why

Start with one emotion first (e.g. stress). Draw an arrow off it and write one hypothesis on why you think you’re feeling this emotion (e.g. deadline). Then draw another arrow off this and ask why again (e.g. not progressing). Keep going (e.g. haven’t had any training opportunities). Keep going as long as you can on each ‘branch’. At any point, feel free to add multiple ‘whys’ that branch off with separate arrows. When you’ve finished, leave the mind map for today.

Step 3: Come back later and analyse

Come back to it tomorrow with a clear mind, and go through your logic steps with a critical hat on. Try to spot any pieces of reasoning that might be down to cognitive biases — that might be your mind inferring something from the facts.

E.g. is it true you haven’t had any training opportunities, or is this just dichotomous thinking (all or nothing)? Were there opportunities to learn on the job? Could you have pushed harder for a training budget? Are there free training opportunities you could pitch? Is there anything you could teach yourself using YouTube tutorials?