The 5W1H questioning technique is a framework that you can use when gathering information and investigating a problem. It is an iterative interrogative technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem which allows you to understand a situation, to discern a problem by analyzing all the dimensions from different perspectives one at a time; This framework can help you to expand a discussion, scope your research, and organize your findings and reports.
When to Use the 5W1H Technique?
5W + 1H is the structural analysis of work. Based on the investigation and research of a certain job by asking 5W + 1H:
5W + 1H Sample Questions
1. What – Object (What has happened?)
- What products does the company produce?
- What spare parts are produced in the workshop?
- Can you produce anything else?
- What should I produce?
2. Where – Location
- Where is production done?
- Why do you want to do this place?
- Can you change places?
- Where should I do it?
- This is something to consider when choosing a workplace.
3. When – Time
- When did this process or component work?
- Why did you do it at this time?
- Can you do it at other times?
- Would it be okay to bring the post process to the front?
- When should I do it?
4. Who – Responsible person
- Who is doing this?
- Why let him do it?
- If he is both irresponsible and has a strong temper, can he change individuals? Sometimes changing people will improve their overall production.
5. Why – Reason
- Why use this technical parameter?
- Why can’t there be changes?
- Why can’t I use it?
- Why does it turn red?
- Why did you make this shape?
- Why use machines instead of humans?
- Why do we have to do it?
6. How – Mean
- How do we do it?
- Why use this method?
- Is there any other way to do it?
- What should I do? Sometimes when the method is changed, the overall situation will change.
How to Conduct 5W + 1H?
People often use 5W1H in drafting plans and analyzing and planning work which enables us effectively perform work. We can first choose a template, and follow this template to ask the question for facilitating the discussion and organize the findings and record the data in the template.
5W + 1H Example – Software Error
Use 5W1H in Different Problem Domains
The 5W1H questioning technique is quite simple, popular, and easy to use. It may be used in various situations. Whatever your profession, project, process, or problem, you can use 5W1H to structure your thinking. Answering the 5W1H questions will give you a complete fact-based story and give you the facts you need to make an informed decision about what to do next.
Here are a few examples that show you how this technique can be used in different context including Journalism, Problem Solving, Project Management, and Program Development:
- Who is it about?
- What happened?
- When did it take place?
- Where did it take place?
- Why did it happen?
- How did it happen
- Who noticed the problem?
- What changed?
- When was it noticed?
- Where did it take place?
- Why did any changes occur?
- How was it noticed?
- Project management
- Who is working on the project?
- What are the potential risks?
- When are the milestones?
- Where are resources coming from?
- Why is the project necessary?
- How will success be measured?
- Program development
- Who is the audience?
- What is the program?
- When will it start/end?
- Where is the physical or virtual space?
- Why is the program important?
- How will the program work?