“I KEEP six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.”

From “The Elephant’s Child” in Just So Stories, 1902, Rudyard Kipling.

This video from Quality Hub India, with a realistic example, presents how to use 5W1H to write an effective problem statement for a project charter.

  • What
    • Define the type of problem with a description
  • Where
    • Where is the problem occurring?
  • When
    • When has the problem occurred?
    • Include the time period for which data about the problem has been collected
  • Who
    • Who identified the problem?
    • Who owns the problem?
  • Why
    • Why is this a concern to the organization?
    • NOT why the problem is occurring
  • How much?
    • Defect rate
    • Cost of problem

You can view the video here.

You can see how the above guidelines are applied by viewing the bad and good problem statements found in this concise article: How to Write a Problem Statement for Six Sigma by Craig Gygi, Bruce Williams, Neil DeCarlo, and Stephen R. Covey.