What are the 5 w’s
Answer the Five w’s – the key five questions of who, what, where, when, and why to understand the context of the problem you’re trying to solve.
👥 5 – 20 person | ⏰ between 30 and 90 minutes
This game helps the team understand the context of a problem more deeply by answering the five fundamental questions about the problem: who, what, where, when, and why.
Employees often come to meetings with widely different levels of knowledge around a problem. No one knows the information better than the team members themselves, so this gives everyone a chance to externalize and share what’s in their minds. It also allows players to unearth questions they have about the problem.
This game sheds some light on a problem, project, or initiative so that team members have a shared knowledge of the problem they are trying to solve, with fewer lingering questions.
5 W’s Instructions
- In a large white space visible to all the players, write the problem and the following words as headers across the top:
- WHO (are we solving it for)?,
- WHAT (is the problem we are trying to solve)?,
- WHERE (is it happening)?,
- WHEN (is it happening)?,
- and WHY (is it important to solve it)?.
- Tell the players that the goal of the game is to understand any and all questions around the problem. Give all players access to sticky notes and markers.
- Start with the question WHO?. Give the players 5 minutes to silently write down as many items or questions as they can that begin with the word WHO.
- Ask the players to post their sticky notes in the white space under WHO?, then ask a couple of volunteers to cluster them according to topical similarity.
- Repeat this process for the remaining four header questions.
- You may want to write emergent themes near each cluster. This is also helpful for the players to reinforce that they have shared concerns. The themes should be one- to three-word phrases that summarize the general content of the clusters.
- When the meeting closes, gather all of the questions so that leadership has the opportunity to review them later and respond to important questions that weren’t covered during the meeting.