The 5 Ws and 1 H represent a clever technique for developing a holistic story about a particular subject and can be especially useful for product managers. The end-game with the 5 Ws and 1 H is to develop complete value context around your product roadmaps, sprints, positioning, etc. as well as the value to your own organization.
This technique can not only help product managers develop detailed product roadmaps but also help them create thorough customer personas, set up relevant KPIs, and more. In this post, we’ll look at what the 5 Ws and 1 H are, how they relate to product management, and share examples of these questions in the product management world.
What Are The 5 Ws and 1 H?
Often referred to as the “reporter’s questions,” the 5 Ws and 1 H are: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Answering these questions gives you the full story about a particular subject. Newspaper editors developed this technique years ago to help journalists write well-rounded stories.
It was understood that answering all six questions would allow journalists to write highly detailed and compelling stories. This technique also helps detectives investigate crimes by finding the answers to each question as they pertain to the case.
How Do The 5 Ws and 1 H Relate To Product Managers?
Just as journalists use the 5 Ws and 1 H to create compelling stories, so can product managers. Product managers should be able to ask and answer each of the questions as they pertain to their product and the customers they’re seeking to support. Product managers can use the 5 Ws to create user and buyer personas, create product roadmaps, script product demos, and more.
Answering the 5 Ws and 1 H as they pertain to a product also offers a better understanding of the product itself and can help identify any gaps left over from the initial development stage. Product managers can use this framework to establish relevant KPIs that focus on the broader objectives of the company rather than vanity metrics.
Examples of the 5 Ws and 1 H in Product Management
We’ve compiled several examples of each question product managers can use when planning their products. Notice that several questions revolve around the product itself, as well as KPIs and other strategic information.
A majority of the questions in our list, however, concern the customer and their experience with the product. When creating your own list of questions, remember to keep user experience and customer outcomes top-of-mind, as this will help you create a product customers love.
Asking Who in Product Management
Asking “who” is one of the most fundamental questions to ask regarding product management and development. The answer to these questions concerns both your target customers as well as the stakeholders and team members responsible for creating and launching the product.
- Who are our target customers (market segments)?
- Who are our users (specific user persona)?
- Who are our buyers (buyer personas)?
- Who are the stakeholders for the product?
Asking What in Product Management
Asking “what” in product management is more than simply asking questions about your product. Once again, you’ve got to stay focused on your target customers and the obstacles they face. Asking “what” questions helps you find out specific details about your product’s users and the challenges they face.
- What do our target customers do (department persona)?
- What are they trying to accomplish (goals/outcomes)?
- What’s stopping them?
- What will our product do to eliminate the obstacles?
- What are the ideal measures of success for this product?
Asking When in Product Management
Product managers can create robust product roadmaps by answering “when” questions. Asking and answering these questions as a team can help create an effective strategy and avoid pitfalls down the road.
- When do customers most often experience this situation/scenario?
- When customers experience this scenario, what’s the outcome they most want?
- When does the project start?
- When do we begin sales pitches and marketing?
- When will the product launch?
- When can customers begin using the product?
- When are customers churning (if at all)?
Asking Where in Product Management
Product managers can ask “where” to discover more about their customers and work out the finer details of product development.
- Where does the product fall within the customer’s bigger-picture workflow?
- Where does the user work (department)?
- Where will the customer use this product (user persona)?
- Where should we start with product development?
- Where will we experience roadblocks during development?
Asking Why in Product Management
Another fundamental question, asking “why” will provide valuable information regarding your customer. Crafting “why” questions helps you better understand your customer’s motivations and goals. It also affords you and your team the opportunity to truly understand what sets your product apart from the competition.
- Why is it strategically important to the customer to improve this process?
- Why can’t they improve it without our solution?
- Why will our product deliver a better outcome than the competition?
- Why would the customer want our product (user/buyer persona)?
- Why will this product succeed (market expertise)?
- Why are customers bouncing (if applicable)?
Asking How in Product Management
Having an idea for a great product is one thing, but you need to be able to answer “how.” Explaining how it works, how it differs from other products like it, and how customers will hear about the product are just a few details you’ll be able to work out by asking these questions.
- How is our product different from the competition?
- How will our product eliminate key obstacles for the customer (user-based outcomes)?
- How will we succeed as a company with this product (strategy)?
- How will customers hear about our product (marketing strategy)?
- How long is the average customer lifespan for this product?
Case Closed on the 5 Ws and 1 H
The 5 Ws and 1 H technique can help create a robust strategy for product managers to follow. Just as this technique helps journalists and detectives write stories and solve crimes, it will also help product managers create products that make customers better at something that’s valuable to their business.
Want more product management insights? Enroll in our product management courses and learn more about outcome-based product management.
You might also like:
by John Mansour on January 5, 2023.