20 – 40 minutes
Paper or whiteboard
Pen, markers, or something else to write with
What is this tool and what is its purpose and benefit?
The 6 questions tool helps to find answers to questions that encompass a problem from all angles: Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. These questions go to the core of different aspects of the identified problem, by allowing you to look at it from different perspectives. For instance, why is it so, how does it work, what is needed, where does it happen, and who is involved in it. Besides finding information, the questions can also help analyse obtained research information, finding connections and cause effects from it.
Steps how to use this tool in practice
The same steps apply when working individually, in pairs or in a group.
Identify the people who will respond to the 6 questions. Depending on the problem identified, you can decide whether to involve only customers or also invite staff members or other stakeholders related to the identified problem.
When you have gathered the participants ask them the following questions:
Who are the target groups and stakeholders related to the identified problem?
What activities and events are related to the identified problem? What are the results from these?
When does the problem occur?
Where (and how) does the problem occur?
Why does the problem exist?
How can the problem be tackled?
Write down the answers. Make sure that each question has been properly and thoroughly discussed. You can ask additional questions keeping in mind the main purpose of each question.
Who questions: aim to identify the actors who are involved in the problem or who may be influenced by the occurrence.
What questions: aim to describe the events, activities to be undertaken, and the results/consequences of the action.
When questions: aim to establish a timeline, design a schedule or identify essential timing aspects.
Where questions: aim to define the locales where the activities are performed, or the contexts in which the problems occur.
Why questions: aim to understand the causes of the problems or the reasons for undertaking or non-undertaking a certain course of actions.
How questions: aim to describe a method or an approach in solving problems.
When you have collected all answers to the 6 questions, analyse the gathered information. It should give you a comprehensive view of the issue at hand.
Tips and hints for using this tool
The 6 questions can be adapted to any purpose and also be asked of oneself.
The tool can also form a basic structure for interviews.
The 5W1H method explained by Humanperf Blog
How to use a 5W1H method to have more productive conversations by Silin Li