5W & 1H Framework


I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

The first stanza of a short poem written by the British poet, Rudyard Kipling sums it all.

In the coaching and consulting space that I work in, a lot can be achieved by just framing your questions powerfully. Hence, I find the 5W & 1H framework most useful, for creating awareness in my coaching clients or for peeling the onion, so to speak, around relevant issues in consulting assignments.

I believe that if we can tackle the 5Ws and 1H Questions for each of the desired outcomes or potential problems, we would have achieved not only a great starting point by precisely defining the problem but also a direction in terms of what needs to be done. When it comes to consulting, I like to expand the scope of these questions as follows:

A. Where are we — status quo?
o Current situation
o ‘As is’ analysis
o Performance evaluation/assessment
o Competitor Bench-marking
o Linkages with previous work done in this domain

B. Why do we need to change the status quo?
o Market evolution
o Context/Market dynamics having changed
o Reasons of efficiency and effectiveness
o Inadequate utilisation of available resources
o Seizing new emerging opportunities

C. What do we want to be?
o Where do we want to go?
o Ambition
o Targeted metrics
o How is success going to look like?

D. How do we get there?
o Cost and resource implications
o Capability gaps to be plugged
o Risks, if any

E. Who will do it?
o Who will be impacted?
o Who will be responsible?

F. When do we get there?
o Timelines for implementation
o When will it start and end?
o Quick wins, if any

I truly believe that in the application of the above framework, one size fits all! Not only it is a simple tool but the appeal of the 5W & 1H framework lies in its universality.

Try it for the problem or challenge that you are currently grappling with!

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