From WikID

What Is ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How’?

Figure 1: Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How?

Analysing a problem means obtaining a thorough understanding of the problem, its stakeholders and the facts and values involved. An important notion in problem analysis is deconstruction of the problem: by asking yourself a multitude of questions (about the stakeholders, facts, etc.), you are able to deconstruct the problem systematically. Consequently, you can review the problem and set priorities. There are several methods available for analysing a problem systematically, one of which is WWWWWH (who, what, where, when, why, and how?). Another method is breaking down the original problem into means-end relationships.

When Can You Use ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How’?

Problem analysis is one of the first steps in a design process, right at the beginning of a design project.

How to Use ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How’?

Starting Point

Define the preliminary problem or draft a design brief

Expected Outcome

The outcome you can expect is that you will get greater clarity about the problem situation (the problem context), you will gain a better understanding of the stakeholders, facts and values of the problem, and more insight into problems underlying the initial problem.

Possible Procedure

  1. Write down the initial design problem in brief statements.
  2. Ask yourself the following WWWWWH questions in order to analyse the initial design problem. Perhaps you can find more questions yourself: Who are the stakeholders? Who has the problem? Who have an interest in finding a solution? What is the problem? What has been done to solve the problem? Why is it a problem? Why is there no solution? When did the problem occur? How did the problem come about? How did (some of) the stakeholders try to solve the design problem?
  3. Review the answers to the questions. Indicate where you need more information.
  4. Prioritise the information: what is important? why?
  5. Rewrite your initial design problem (see Problem definition)

Tips and Concerns

  • Who: mention as many people as possible that are involved with the problem
  • What: think also about the problems behind the problem. Try to find the essence of the problem.
  • You can also ask “What for”.

References and Further Reading

  • Tassoul, M. (2006) Creative Facilitation: a Delft Approach, Delft: VSSD.


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