If you have read my book What Does Good Look Like? you’ll know that I’m keen on clarity. Who isn’t?

Something that I see time and time again is a lack of explanation within business tasks. Explaining exactly what you expect is a skill. Too many managers grumble when deliverables and vision don’t match.

So, what is this tried and tested approach to avoid this gap? Its name is 5W1H.

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • How

5W1H = five words beginning with ‘W’ and one with an ‘H’. You may also know it as Rudyard Kipling’s six honest serving men!

This series of prompts is a great way to make sure that you have provided enough detail for your team. You want them to win, and this is one way to help them.

You can apply these prompts to:

  • Meeting / project actions 
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
  • Project plans / charters
  • Rotas
  • Policies

If you have found yourself in the position of not getting what you want, give this a go. It doesn’t take long to think through the six prompts, to include all the information that you need.

Give it a go and see what happens to your results.

Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.