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What Does 5W2H Mean and How to Apply

The acronym 5W2H has been widely used in the corporate environment as a checklist that allows evaluating the viability of an idea of a product or activity that is intended to be carried out. When in doubt about a project's potential, you can use this tool to gain a broader understanding of its chances of success. Keep reading to understand what 5W2H is and how to apply it in your company's reality.


After all, what does 5W2H mean?

These four characters compose an acronym of seven guidelines (in English) that are crucial for the assertive execution of projects of different natures. In other words, 5W2H is nothing more than a list of 7 questions that need to be answered clearly to put a project into practice. See what the acronym means!


The 5 W

  • What will be done?

  • Why (Why will it be done?)

  • Where (where will it be done?)

  • When (When will it be done?)

  • Who (Who will it be made?)


the 2 hours

  • How (How will it be done?)

  • How much (How much will it cost?)


This methodology consists of developing a plan focused on the answers to these seven questions. By listing these answers, it is easier to understand the feasibility of the projects, that is, if there are effective chances of working. A checklist that allows you to organize ideas and assess their effectiveness.


Replace doubts with productivity

The use of the 5W2H methodology allows replacing doubts with more productivity, that is, having greater control over the activities that need to be carried out for a project to be carried out. With all structured planning, it is easier to distribute the activities among the project participants, as well as measure the resources employed.

Everyone involved in projects based on this methodology has greater knowledge of what to do, how to do it, when to do it, in short, the work is performed more clearly. During the process, there is greater synergy between the participants, something that is reflected in more tangible results and a differentiated strategic positioning.


How to apply the 5W2H methodology?

The application of the 5W2H method demands a lot of clarity regarding the activity to be analyzed, that is, you must know all the details to answer the 7 crucial questions contained in the acronym. As an example, imagine that company X intends to launch a new product line, your analysis would look like this:


The 5 W

  • What – New product line.

  • Whay (Why?) – To diversify the product line.

  • Where? – At the headquarters factory.

  • When (When?) – Production will start in six months.

  • Who (By whom?) – Product development team.

The 2 H

  • How – From survey responses from current consumers.

  • How much – 20% of the budget (Company X did a cost study for the product to be developed and reach the market to determine this answer).


Note that, based on these answers, it is possible to analyze how the development of a new product line can impact the financial and structural health of the company. The manager can use these answers to verify the feasibility of following up with this plan with the resources that the organization currently has. This feasibility analysis makes all the difference for the good progress of the project.

If it identifies that the company does not support this release under current conditions, it can establish lines of action to make it suitable. Once everything is set to start the project, it is possible to use these answers to create a worksheet of activities needed to reach the expected result. From the answers, it is already known how the project will be put into practice and what the needs are for it to become a reality.


Pay attention to the answers to the 7 questions

Previously you can see generically how to apply the 5W2H methodology. It is noteworthy that it is essential that the answers are consistent and correspond to the reality of your organization. Look for up-to-date data to determine answers such as cost and place of execution. The need to verify the answers corroborates the need to carry out constant feasibility analyses.

In many cases, it is not necessary to suspend projects, just adapt or relocate them at other times to make them more successful. Applying the method is not difficult, it just requires having assertive answers in hand. With a well done planning, processes will be more agile and the team more integrated.


When to apply the 5W2H methodology?

The 5W2H tool can be applied in corporate and personal contexts, after all, it is an analysis and structuring methodology. Anything that requires planning can be made simpler with the answers to these questions.


Imagine, for example, that you want to organize a birthday party for one of your children. Using the 7 essential questions, you will be able to delineate the scope of the event without difficulty.

It is even valid to use corporate tools in your daily life to make them more present and easily assimilated. Using management logic in your everyday life makes it simpler to think about this bias at work.


The 5W2H method can be very useful in different situations that demand feasibility and organization assessment, such as the launch of new products, start of new activities, opening of franchised units, among others.


It is possible to boost a company's profitability through the use of the 5W2H tool in strategic planning, enhance the maintenance capacity of machinery, define a more assertive personnel selection process, increase and diversify the customer base, among others. This mechanism of validation by responses and subsequent organization of activities makes this methodology widely applicable in several different contexts.


5W2H: alternative for companies of all sizes

It is very common to hear managers of small businesses questioning the applicability of certain corporate tools in their business. The 5W2H method does not distinguish the size of the enterprise and can be successfully applied to companies of all sizes. As it is applied on a question-and-answer basis, simply answer according to your organization's structure.

With these tips you can start applying the 5W2H method in your company!


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