Discovering the Reason Behind a Problem: Uncovering Your 'Why'

Real Estate Sales Representative with Royal LePage / Pro Ledger Online Software

The '5 Why Method' can be a very effective problem-solving tactic to locate a problem's root cause.

You can get to the root of an issue by asking "why" it is happening over and over again. Instead of just dealing with the symptoms of a problem, the goal is to find out what's causing it.

For example, an agent who is having trouble earning enough money, for instance, might ask the following five why questions:

  1. Why is my income low? - I'm not closing enough deals.
  2. Why am I not closing enough deals? - Because I'm not getting enough clients.
  3. Why am I not getting enough clients? - Because I am not effectively marketing.
  4. Why am I not effectively marketing? - because I lack marketing expertise.
  5. Why do I lack marketing expertise? - because I've never been taught marketing strategies.

In this example, the lack of proper training and education on marketing strategies is the root cause of not producing enough income.

Now that the ROOT cause has been found, the agent can take steps to fix it, such as going to trainings or workshops, hiring a professional marketing service, or joining local or online real estate agent communities where they can learn and share new marketing strategies.

What problem-solving process's do you use? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.


Comments (15)

Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®
RE/MAX Platinum - Waukesha, WI
Giving Back With Each Home Sold!

Great post!  Thanks for sharing and enjoy your day!

Jan 30, 2023 07:17 AM
Steve Penner

same to you Kristin


Jan 30, 2023 07:30 AM
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint-Idaho
Sandpoint Realty LLC - Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Only as good as the questions we ask...and seldom is a single question enough.  Good post.  Mark

Jan 30, 2023 07:38 AM
Steve Penner

often the "problem is not the problem" it seems :)


Jan 30, 2023 07:46 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ

Steve I have a different take on this getting to the root cause. There are some agents that no matter how much training or education they get they don't make it in this business.  Why?  Because they don't believe they can. And we've had a few of those along the way, just not for long. It all comes down to - believe and it will happen.  As in SEE IT happening! To Think is To Create.

Jan 30, 2023 09:40 AM
Steve Penner

Thanks Anna... good comments. The blog had  an example only... and certainly could be a wide range of answers to they why's... my apologies if I did not make that clear in the blog.  Perhaps I should have expanded more on it. Certainly the answer to one of they why quetions could be, as you suggest, a lack of belief.

For example, if  "belief" is the answer to one of the "why's"... then then next question could be (if appropriate and practical and if it can point to a viable solution) "why do I not have belief"... and eventually a root cause or causes gets uncovered. .. and hopefully a solution can be sought. 



Jan 30, 2023 11:34 AM
Ray Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA

I appreciate your tip for analyzing problems.  I have never been that formal, but I do ask a lot of questions and usually they are directed toward those that have shown success in areas that I lack.

I also think Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker is correct.  You have to believe it is all possible, then have the conviction to follow through. 

Jan 30, 2023 09:49 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten Phoenix Broker

Agreed Ray Henson and I think it's 'fun' to learn things from others that I have no idea about!! 

Jan 30, 2023 10:20 AM
Steve Penner

Thanks Ray great  comments... and yes, not usually necessary to be formal about any technique.. often I find it best to just be "mindful". 

At the end of the day, the big idea here is to get to the "root" of a matter. If there is lack of belief, or lack of skill, or lack of training, etc etc..   it all gets uncovered with a series of why questions... hope that makes sense :) 



Jan 30, 2023 11:40 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Steve,
Getting to the root of the problem and being willing to do what it takes to correct the problem are two different things. Some people just aren't willing to do the things that successful people do.

Jan 30, 2023 12:23 PM
Steve Penner

Yes absolutely.. good comment!  certainly we are not always rational creatures and knowing the what may not necessarily do any good... I hear you on that. All we can say at times.. is well, at least you led the horse to the water :)




Jan 30, 2023 12:36 PM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Hi Steve- you make some excellent points and yes...not believing in yourself can be the root problem that you get to by drilling down in your discovery questions. 

Jan 30, 2023 07:38 PM
Charles Ross - (785)-819-6944
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Excellent information, Thank you for sharing. Have a wonderful day and a blessed weekend. I had the opportunity to do this exercise on stage in Vegas with Dean Graziosi.

Feb 04, 2023 04:17 AM
Steve Penner

oh. .interesting.  Have a great weekend


Feb 04, 2023 09:30 AM
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Steve. Since "root causes" are so difficult to find and solve in Washington DC, have you considered sending this to your politicians to help them out? Enjoy your day.

Feb 04, 2023 04:44 AM
Steve Penner

Thanks Wayne, haha.. food for thought.


Feb 04, 2023 09:30 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good evening Steve,

Some how I missed your insightful post so I'm so glad Carol Williams featured your post in her Second Chance Saturday Series! You made some excellent points!

Feb 04, 2023 04:17 PM
Steve Penner

Thanks Dorie

Feb 05, 2023 05:53 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Feeding out the why you do what you do is really key to most things in life because it’s at the foundation on which she won’t budge or on the stuff that you will be open to changing

Feb 04, 2023 09:56 PM
Steve Penner

Yes very foundational... best if it is not overlooked.

Feb 05, 2023 05:54 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
Relocation to NW AZ with elbow room & more freedom

There is a book entitled "Start with Why" by Simon Sinek which is an exceptional resource.

Feb 05, 2023 04:24 AM
Steve Penner

I like Simon... sounds like a good read.. thanks for that. 

Feb 05, 2023 05:55 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

Steve Penner  Who moved the Cheese -  and The Art of Positive Thinking -   Just a few books and education is a must -  lets's agree some people are just not cut out for it 

Feb 05, 2023 11:36 AM
Paddy Deighan MBA JD PhD - Vail, CO
Paddy Deighan J.D. Ph.D

I like to make the problem part of the solution … especially with people

Feb 07, 2023 11:43 PM
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Knowing your WHY in just about everything is the first step in moving forward and sticking to it. That way you always have your WHY to go back to when you are struggling or challenged to keep going.

Feb 08, 2023 01:07 PM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Fascinating post and reactions.   While I knew about drilling down on goal setting this way, I'd never thought of problem solving this way.    Thanks - following you!

Feb 09, 2023 09:51 AM
Steve Penner

thanks DW.. appreciate the follow and that you found the post helpful


Feb 09, 2023 11:07 AM