Learn new skills better and apply them faster with the 5W framework

August 18, 2022

Our content specialists have created hundreds of minutes of courses over the last years. Together with subject matter experts, our teams are always striving to answer one simple question:

How can you make sense of expert knowledge, and quickly turn it into a valuable action for yourself?

What we learned about designing the perfect learning experience, can also be applied to get the best out of your next conversation with an expert!

You aim to get knowledge out from the heads of experts, and into the heads of learners, while ensuring that what you learn is relevant and applicable to your work, today. After completely re-vamping one of our most successful innovation courses on Prototyping and Idea Evaluation, our content specialists put together all their insights, and came up with the 5-What framework to fast and efficient learning:

The 5W Framework

The 5 “What” framework is an adaptation of the 5-Why principle used in qualitative interviewing. Our content specialists ask those questions to our lecturers and subject matter experts throughout the production of a new course. Use the 5 questions to learn what’s relevant to YOU during a conversation.

1. What do you mean by that?

Have you ever asked a colleague a question, and their answer confused you even more? Most (if not all) experts succumb to something called the Curse of Knowledge — once you’re an expert, everything seems obvious to you, yet you have a hard time explaining it to a beginner in simple terms. To counter the Curse of Knowledge, ask “what do you mean by that” (again, and again)  to make the content more approachable and less abstract.

2. What does that mean to me?

Or in another sense, ‘How can this be useful to me?’. Adding meaning to something makes it easier to remember. Our content designers know that our learners are spread worldwide and come from very different backgrounds – from engineers, human resources, marketing, or sales, to any other function in a company. For people to learn our content faster, we made sure to provide simple examples that apply to almost everyone, like how to improve the cycling experience in people’s cities. When it’s your turn to learn, make sure you get the expert to provide you with examples that you can relate to.

3. What do I do with this?

Knowledge is most useful when it can be applied. To cover this, we ask lecturers for step-by-step explanations, templates, and toolboxes that go with everything we teach. Don’t be shy, and ask this question even though it might feel like you’re annoying the person — the opposite is the case. The person you’re asking will likely feel happy about your interest in the details.

4. What can go wrong?

We all learn from other people’s mistakes — we don’t cross the street without looking if there is a car, because we have seen somebody get hit (in real life, the movies, or through stories). There’s no need to repeat that mistake. This question gets you the most important mistakes to avoid — in our courses, we share best practices to avoid mistakes. If you happen to make a mistake yourself, make sure to ask for feedback — constructive feedback is an essential element of the learning journey, and we make sure to point out the potential for improvement based on the expertise of our lecturers.

5. What if the situation differs from the ideal?

What to do if things don’t go as planned? In innovation, every project is unique and full of surprises. Our learners will rarely be able to apply their learnings 1:1 at their work. Therefore, we ask the lecturers how learners can adapt the concepts to their individual situations. Make sure to ask this question, it will give you a good backup plan for when things don’t work out (and they probably won’t).

In summary, the 5-What’s lead to learning content that is more understandable, more relevant, and more applicable.

Hanna Basche
Content Specialist

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