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5 W questions

Using 5W Questions to Navigate Any Situation

Last night, my brother, Steve, and I took my dad to the hospital emergency ward. At 91 years old he had fallen. 

Our dad seemed okay after the fall although his left eye and the top of his head were red and swollen. Nurses at his seniors’ residence were monitoring him throughout the week and noticed his abrasions were getting worse. An appointment with the doctor prompted the precautionary visit to the hospital.

It took a couple of hours for my dad to be admitted and we spent the next six hours watching as he progressed through a series of tests. 

The ‘5W questions’—Who, What, When, Why, Where—are primary tools of journalists, researches and problem solvers. They are the first to be asked and create an overall picture of a topic or situation.

The 5W’s are excellent change management questions too. Each question requires factual answers and cannot be answered with a “yes” or “no”. They help to gain perspective, develop hypotheses and support decision making on how to move forward.

Here are the questions we asked (and ones we wished we had):

The tests are ongoing, far longer than we thought. More questions are required. This time, I will write them down in advance so there are none in the ‘should have asked’ column.

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