How do you define the problem? There are a number of ways. One common way is to use 5WH questions. 5WH (also known as the Five Ws) forces you to clarify exactly what the problem is. It does so by asking these questions:

  • Who…?
  • What…?
  • When…?
  • Where…?
  • How…?
  • Why…?

By answering these questions about the problem, you will define the problem in detail.

In the video I talked about planning a birthday party. Instead of wanting to throw the ‘best’ party, how else could we frame the problem?


I want to host a memorable party… (What)

… on my birthday… (When)

… for a small group of close friends… (Who)

… by going on a road trip… (How)

… to a theme park… (Where)

… because I love exciting adventures. (Why)


You have a choice here. Take a moment to define these answers for yourself. If this were your party, what would your well-defined problem be? Or, if you’d prefer, feel free to use the problem as it is written here. Either way, keep a copy of the problem where you can see it. We’ll be referring to it later in the course.

It’s a lot of work to come up with a question this well-defined. But notice how much easier it will be to answer? With this level of detail, the rest of the planning becomes much simpler.

< PreviousNext >

Module 1: Introduction
Module 2: Defining the problem
Module 3: Researching the data
Module 4: Imagining possibilities
Module 5: Designing the solution
Module 6: Experimenting
Module 7: Case study: This Course
Module 8: Where to from here?

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