5W Technique

The Need

Albert Einstein famously said “If I had an hour to solve a problem I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

Indeed, understanding a problem is perhaps the most crucial step for solving it; but often, we don't know where to begin. The scope of the problem may not be clear, different people on the team may have divergent conceptions of the problem, or we may simply not have enough information about the problem.

What You Get

I will guide you through the problem definition process, which starts with guiding your research, continues with creating a detailed conceptual model of the problem, and ends with the creation of a succinct statement of your problem.

At the end of the problem definition process, you will receive a report containing all the information about the problem, presented in a clear and structured manner.


You can view a report template here.

How it Works

The 5W Technique for creating a succinct problem statement involves answering the following questions:

1. Who are the stakeholders affected by the problem? 

2. What are the attributes/properties of stakeholders relevant to the problem?

3. Where does the problem occur? In the real or virtual worlds.

4. When does the problem occur? Events, periods, or duration.

5. Why does the problem occur? Its triggers and enablers.

In addition to answering these questions in detail, I will also produce a visual conceptual model of the problem. This model will show a systems view of your problem's five Ws and their interrelationships. I will also provide you with a problem statement, distilling the five Ws into a single paragraph. These two representations should allow your team to reach a mutual understanding of the problem.

Interested in defining your problem? Submit your request here.

Once you are satisfied with your understanding of the problem, you can make a request for a SNAP Method workshop or focus on quickly generating ideas using SNAP Companion.

Solve New Problems

Creative solutions, fast.

Rea Lavi, PhD

Structured methods and innovative tools for complex problem-solving

Statements of fact and opinions expressed are those of Rea Lavi and, unless expressly stated to the contrary, are only his views and positions and not that of any other institution or person.

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