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How many times have you been in this situation:

You have a problem (let’s keep this at work) so you remember the adage “many hands make light work” so you call a meeting to have discussion and brainstorm some ideas. Somewhere during the discussion it all falls apart …

…and nothing gets done

After attending a recent masterclass with Keith Ferrazzi, he introduced the 5-5-5 conversation framework, and it’s one way to focus the attention of everyone to finding actionable solutions.

It’s 15 minutes (so even the short-attention-span attendees can stay put!) broken up into three 5-minute segments.


The goal here is for the presenter (the person wanting help) is to inform everyone what they know so far.

Some key things you need to include (and anything else relevant)

  • What is the challenge / what are you trying to accomplish?
  • Who
    • are the stakeholders
    • in what capacities
  • When
    • are the key milestones (dates/times)
    • are there any deadlines
  • What
    • have you done
    • have you tried
    • have you learned so far
    • are you thinking of trying


The goal for the group here is to make sure everyone understands the challenge, the situation and complexities surrounding it. This is purely an exploration of the scope of the challenge.

Questions to uncover might include

  • How will you know you’ve succeeded?
  • How will you measure the result?
  • What options have you excluded and why?
  • What research have you done?
  • Have you spoken to [individual/group]?
  • Have you considered [abc] as a risk?


The final element is for the group, having heard the problem and asked questions, is to come up with actions the presenter can undertake.

It can help to link the action/suggestion to the problem eg:

“I suggest you speak to Bob. He’s the product manager, and knows about how many widgets we can produce per week. This will help you understand how long it will take to fulfil the customer’s order”


“Instead of preselecting the widget colour, could the customer choose a colour and then we can paint it at the end?”

The 5-5-5 structure enables people to quickly get to the heart of a problem, enabling the “many minds” of the company with different knowledge and perspectives to enhance ideas. It’s not the only structure, and won’t work in every situation, but it’s often a good “first” when you’re facing a problem.

Want to work more in 5-5-5?