What Is 5 Ws and H Framework? Definition & Applications

Max 7min read
5 Ws and H Framework

Have you ever been captivated by a great storyteller? Someone who can weave words together and transport you to another world? What sets them apart from the rest? Why do their stories resonate with you? Where and when do you usually hear these tales?

Think about it for a moment. Maybe you thought of a favorite author, a beloved teacher, or a charismatic friend. Regardless of who came to mind, there’s no denying that storytelling is a powerful art form that can captivate and connect us.

But how does storytelling relate to the world of product and project management? How can you utilize it to successfully communicate ideas in an industry where technical jargon reigns supreme?

In truth, storytelling is an essential skill that can help you engage stakeholders and customers in the development process. And while it may seem like a nebulous concept, the power of storytelling has been integral to human communication for thousands of years.

So, what makes a great story? And how can you harness the power of storytelling to drive your product forward? Let’s explore the 5 W’s and H of storytelling in product development.

 What Is 5 Ws and H?

Definition of 5 Ws and H

The concept of the 5 W’s and H involves the six fundamental inquiries crucial when gathering information or resolving a problem.

These inquiries include:

  1. Who?
  2. What?
  3. Where?
  4. When?
  5. Why?
  6. How?

The Five Ws, also called the Five W’s and one H or the Six Ws, are a set of essential inquiries crucial for obtaining information. 

They consist of Who, What, When, Where, and Why. The framework is commonly employed in journalism, research, and police investigations to establish a structure for comprehensively covering a specific topic.

A report must respond to these queries in the form of an interrogative sentence to comply with the Five W’s principle:

  • Who is the main character?
  • What happened?
  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • Why did it happen?

Additionally, some writers include a sixth question, “how,” which can be addressed by “what,” “where,” or “when.”

Each question necessitates a factual answer, and it’s essential to include all relevant information to ensure the report is comprehensive. It’s critical to note that none of the questions can get answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Children often use this type of inquiry when beginning a writing project. Like youngsters, we must also exhibit tenacious persistence and resolve when learning something new. By addressing the Five Ws and one H, we can better comprehend a subject and effectively communicate information.

 5 Ws and H Framework

Importance of using the 5Ws and H framework

The 5 W’s and H framework is a valuable tool in multiple domains, including journalism, research, police investigations, and project management. Here are some key points about this approach:

  • Initially designed for journalism, the 5 W’s and H method involves answering Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions in the lead paragraph of news articles. Today, it remains widely used in journalism to gather all necessary information on a given topic.
  • In project management, the 5 W’s and H technique help teams create a shared vision and focus on critical aspects. The aspects include stakeholders, project scope, purpose, and methodology; by asking questions like Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, project managers can comprehensively understand the project, anticipate potential challenges, and devise strategies to overcome them.
  • The 5 W’s and H methods can also get implemented in case management investigations to plan, report, and present findings. Investigators can rely on this framework to ensure that all relevant information is collected and presented clearly and concisely.

The 5Ws and 1H Framework

The 5 W’s and H Framework is a popular information-gathering and problem-solving approach. This framework comprises six questions, including Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How, which are fundamental in information-gathering.


The Who question in the 5 W’s and H Framework refers to identifying the person, group, or organization involved in or responsible for the subject or problem.

Some examples of Who questions include:

  • Who is affected by the problem?
  • Who caused the problem?
  • Who will be responsible for solving the problem?

Answering the Who question helps you identify the key stakeholders involved in the problem and determine their roles and responsibilities in finding a solution.


The What question in the 5 W’s and H Framework identifies the subject or problem.

Some examples of What questions include:

  • What is the problem or issue?
  • What are the critical components of the subject?
  • What are the potential solutions to the problem?

Answering the What question is essential for gaining a clear understanding of the subject or problem and defining the scope of the investigation.


The When question in the 5 W’s and H Framework refers to identifying the time or period when the subject or problem occurred or will occur.

Some examples of When questions include:

  • When did the problem first occur?
  • When is the deadline for solving the problem?
  • When is the ideal time for implementing a solution?

Answering When the question is vital for determining the urgency and timeline for solving the problem and identifying any relevant events or factors that may have contributed to the problem.


The Where question in the 5 W’s and H Framework refers to identifying the location or context where the subject or problem occurred or will occur.

Some examples of Where questions include:

  • Where did the problem occur?
  • Where is the best location to implement a solution?
  • Where are the resources needed to solve the problem located?

Answering Where the question is essential for identifying the physical or environmental factors that may have contributed to the problem. It also helps you determine the best location for implementing a solution.


The “Why” component of the 5 W’s and H framework refers to the reasons behind a particular situation or event. It aims to uncover the purpose or motivation that drives an action or decision.

For instance:

  • In a project management context, asking “why” can help to understand the rationale behind specific project requirements or goals. 
  • In a safety inspection, asking “why” can help to identify the root cause of a safety hazard and prevent it from recurring.

The “why” question is crucial in understanding the underlying reasons behind a situation or decision, which can help make informed judgments and decisions. By uncovering the motives behind an action or event, one can gain a deeper understanding of the context and make more informed decisions.


The “How” component of the 5 W’s and H framework refers to the methods or procedures used to achieve a particular goal or outcome. It focuses on the steps or processes of executing a specific task or project.

For instance:

  •  In a manufacturing process, asking “how” can help to identify the steps involved in producing a particular product and improve the efficiency of the process. 
  • In a software development project, asking “how” can help to understand the development methodology and the specific tools and techniques used to build the software.

Understanding the “how” of a situation or project is essential to improving efficiency, identifying areas for improvement, and replicating success. By understanding the methods or procedures involved in achieving a specific goal or outcome, one can identify opportunities for optimization and improvement.

Applications of the 5Ws and 1H Framework

The 5 W’s and H framework is a versatile tool in many different contexts, including:

  • Journalism: To gather information and write news articles by answering Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How questions.
  • Project management: To help teams create a shared vision and focus on essential aspects of a project, such as stakeholders, project scope, purpose, and methodology.
  • Case management investigations: Plan, report, and present findings clearly and concisely.
  • Management level: To improve organization and processes during brainstorming sessions.
  • Quality level: As a problem-resolution support tool.
  • Innovation level: To boost the emergence of solutions and ideas in the cause of progress.

Advantages of Using the 5Ws and 1H Framework for Product Managers

The 5 W’s and H framework is a powerful tool that can help Product Managers understand the task ahead and identify critical factors during the product development process. 

Understanding the Product Definition Stage

During the product definition stage, the 5W questions can help the team understand the core aspects of the product. These questions are as follows:

  • What: What are we setting out to achieve?
  • Who: Who is the product for?
  • When: When should the product be released?
  • Where: Where will the product be used?
  • Why: Why are we building it?

Once you have answered these questions, your team can focus on how they will create the product.

Using the 5W’s to Create User and Buyer Personas

Product Managers can use the 5 W’s and H framework to create user and buyer personas. It involves gathering data about the users and buyers of the product to create detailed profiles. 

These profiles include information about the user’s demographics, behaviors, goals, and pain points. The buyer personas, on the other hand, have information about the decision-making process, buying habits, and budget.

Creating Product Roadmaps, Product Demos, and KPIs

Product Managers can use the 5W’s and H framework to create product roadmaps, script product demos, and establish relevant KPIs. A product roadmap depicts the evolution of a product through time. 

Product demos, on the other hand, are scripted presentations that showcase the features and benefits of the product. KPIs are the metrics used to track progress toward the company’s broader objectives.

Identifying Gaps in the Development Stage

Answering the 5W’s and H as they pertain to the product can offer a better understanding of the product itself. It can also identify any gaps left over from the initial development stage. 

It is essential because it allows product managers to refine the product and ensure that it meets the needs of the users and buyers.


How does the 5Ws and 1H framework aid in decision making?

Decision makers can establish a strategy for action by responding to the six questions in the 5W’s and H framework. By doing so, they can get a factual grasp of their circumstances.

How can the 5Ws and 1H framework be used in problem solving?

A questioning and problem-solving technique called the 5W1H aims to look at concepts and problems from many angles. It aids in improving your comprehension of a situation and locating its underlying causes.

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