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Five Ws

> Resolve issue

The Five Ws activity is a rational method of questioning that makes it possible to gather information needed to respond to an issue. Participants can then develop a summary as a group.


Before the meeting:

  • Frame the issue in order to clearly define the problem: contextualise it as best as possible so the Five Ws activity is effective (problem, scope, diagnosis)
  • Ask everyone to gather the facts related to the issue to be addressed.

Prepare a Board activity with the following 6 categories: Who? What? Where? When? How does it work? Why?

Activity settings Board

  • Activity format: Round by round
  • Categories: 6 activity categories




Present the activity and clarify the issue with the group. Make sure it is understood and accepted by all.

Explain each question and the various dimensions associated with it, as well as the distinction between What and Why:

  • Who? Who is concerned? Who has the issue? Who is interested? etc.
  • What? What is it? Situation, characteristics, risks, consequences , etc.
  • Where? Where is the location? Environment, distances, etc.
  • When? Since when? Until when? At what time? How often? For when?
  • How? Conditions, circumstances, methods, means, procedures
  • Why? Causes, aims, reasons, etc.


Ask each person to think about the questions and to write down their ideas in their respective notepads.



One by one, the participants send in their ideas following the questioning process.

After all participants have had their turn, feel free to group similar elements together or remove duplicates to get a concise vision and a consensus.



At the end of the activity, you’ll have a summary of the problem in all its aspects. You can share it using the automatic meeting notes.

You can also define an action plan and decisions in order to initiate the first solutions to the problem or follow up with a brainstorming session to start ideation to delve further into each question.

Suggestions and variations

Add the ‘How much/how many’ dimensions to add a numerical dimension to the questioning:

  • How much/many? Resources, profits, losses, quantities, etc.
  • You can insert it after the How question

If you want to focus more on causality, we recommend looking at the 5 Whys activity.

If you have a lot of participants (more than 10), you can create sub-groups and assign each of them to a Board. A representative can present the summary to the others.

  • You can also set up an ideation session so that each sub-group can dig into a question.
Activity Board
30 to 60 min
2 to 30
Gather information about an issue by asking the right questions.
Start and build a common and rational vision in order to respond to a problem.