5W1H & 3T – Five Ws and How plus Three Times

by Martin

5W1H & 3T – Five Ws and How plus Three Times

The Five Ws are questions whose answers are considered the basics in information gathering or problem solving. They are often mentioned in journalism, research and police investigations. They constitute a formula for getting the complete story on a subject. According to the principle of the Five Ws, a report can only be considered complete if it angers these questions starting with an interrogative word.

The Five Ws are:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why

The 1H is the sixth question to the list:

  • How

This is the definition you will find on Wikipedia. 

Why 5W1H & 3T changed my life for ever?

You might ask yourself now ‘Why is he talking about this? How is this related to finding my true passion and starting or accelerating my online business?’

Thank you, I’m glad you are asking.

Let me explain. To me it is vitally important to have a structure in everything I do. I call it my ‘blueprint’. Over the last nearly two decades I attended countless trainings, most been interesting, from fee I remembered any content two weeks after and even fever I actually could implement anything of what I learned. There was one exception.

The trainer was simply amazing. He was so engaging, his personality filled the room, without any nuance of arrogance or I know it all kind of behaviour.

He was totally down to earth, easily approachable and super entertaining.

I worked for this large multi-national corporation and we had to complete at least two management trainings per year as per our personal development plan. Which ones, didn’t really matter. The important thing was that we completed them in time, added the details to our plans and send the same electronically to HR and our line manager – so they would meet their metrics. Anyway, this is not the topic of today. 

How I meet a person who changed my views totally?

At the beginning of the year I choose this in person training in London, back then I was living in Brussels, so an easy 1h flight. I selected this particular course without actually expecting much, man was I wrong.

It was the early one to London, leaving at 7am in Brussels and arriving at 7am in London – I still love the feeling of traveling through time – of course, the reason been the time zone difference between the two cities. When I arrived in London, it was a cold, rainy, early morning. I met a co-worker in the taxi cue, we didn’t know each other, but spotted our company badge hanging from our belt loop. We had a nice chat and decided to continue our discussion in the cab. He was a very interesting person and the time to the office, in normal crazy London traffic around 1h+, did simply fly by. I learned that we are actually both in the same training. I started to look forward to the training.

We entered the room pretty much right on time. The trainer, I shared earlier about his amazing personality, was already there. We quickly introduced us to him and learned where our assigned seats where for the day – we actually had to rotate tables every day which I didn’t like at all as a concept. Anyway, that first day my new buddy and I been assigned to the same table, what a luck – well, I don’t believe anything in life is happening without a reason.

The training started and we spend the better part of day one to get introduced to the concept of 5W1H and how this, combined with the 3T – the three times ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Today’ and the ‘To close the gap’ can revolutionize our thinking of strategic planning.

We had to do a series of group exercises using this to us new methodology, everyone of us did a couple of presentations and got feedback from the whole audience and we had to commit on how to utilize this method after the training – and that’s the part I really believe made the difference.

The amazing trainer, had us to build during the training two things: 

1. A 5W1H combined with 3T template

2. A PowerPoint presentation explaining the methodology

Both had to be presented to our teams within the coming two weeks. The trainer did setup a follow-up call on the spot and every training attendee had to be there, mandatorily. Not showing up would have been considered a failure for the whole course and would have been reported to HR and your line manager – a bit of pressure always helps in corporate.

What can I say, I did complete the presentation, the template and shared not only the methodology and the template/presentation to my team, I actually convinced my line manager at the time to give me a slot on his senior management team meeting, so I could present the same to all his direct reports. 

That day, I started to use the 5W1H & 3T methodology and still use it today.

Why only you are responsible for your results?

Strategic planning is super important to any business, especially if you are entrepreneur. You might be on your own or have a small team. What you likely don’t have a lot of, is time. Time to spend on building templates. Templates to help you moving faster in achieving your strategic goals.

Here is where I can help you. I can share with you all the templates I have developed so you can move faster.

We will start with the 3T’s:

    • Where do you want to be in 5 years (Tomorrow)?
    • Where are you right now (Today)?
    • What need to happen by when to achieve your goals (To close the gap aka. THE PLAN)?

After we have jointly defined your three times by utilizing my templates, we will be moving on to five Ws. We will start at the highest level, the milestones, and work our way down step by step until we have a list of individual tasks by week, sometimes even by day. Every task, if big or small, will fulfill these criteria:

    • Who will be responsible (The Owner)?
    • What will need to be done (The Task)?
    • When does it need to be completed (The Due Date)?
    • Where does it need to be complete (The Location)?
    • Why is it important (The Strategic Link)?

and last but not least, the How – my absolute favorite:

    • How will it be done?
    • How do we start?
    • How do we priorities the next steps after?
    • How do we measure success?
    • How do we ensure strategic alignment?
    • How do we ensure correct timing?

I think you see where this is going. The HOW is to me, the most critical part of all. At the same time, it’s one one which is, at least in my experience, the one with the least guidance.

Nearly all processes, trainings, manuals etc. do focus pretty much on the 5Ws. So you know what needs to be done and why it is important to do. How to do it, is very often not well documented.

This is valid for any process, regardless if we talk about strategic planning, project management or leading a team. You receive some training, some documentation assuming you know how to get started. Thats the biggest mistake and to me the number one reason why so many time, money and effort is wasted trying to expand the skills of employees.

Why I just love the HOW?

Just think about it, if you got all the tool kit, have the excitement of the just completed training, but nobody told you HOW to get started. What will you do?

Exactly, nothing. Most likely you don’t do anything as it would take you too much time and effort to figure out HOW to start. At the same time, after been away for three days on that training, there are hundreds of emails, pending tasks, client requests etc.

I’m totally honest with you, I had been the same way, until this training. Until I meet a trainer, a coach who really cared about me. Equipping me with the full tool kit, including the HOW to start.

Now I want to give back what I learned. Be your trusted advisor on HOW to achieve your goals, your dreams and to start to do what you LOVE for LIVING…!!!

What’s next? Go to my website and book a free 30 min discovery call with me.

Until next time,


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