What So What What Now

What is a What, So What, What Now?

What? So What? Now What? is a reflective model that helps teams evaluate a shared experience or a recent event so that they can identify ways to improve or act. This critical thinking model was researched and  developed by Rolfe et al. in 2001. It is also attributed to Henri Lipmanowicz and Keith McCandless, the creators of Liberating Structures.

The What, So What, What Now exercise works on brainstorming and reflecting on:

  • Understanding the event (What?) 
  • Making sense of the facts and implications (So What?)
  • Identifying the course of action or new solutions (Now What?)

Why Do a What, So What, What Now?

This model can be used for a critical reflection session through a crisis management situation where you need to define and frame the problem, analyse the impact and then consider the possible actions to address the issue.

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Who Should Use this Technique?

This system is a reflective method that can be used by groups who would like to better understand problems and discover better solutions.

Examples include:

  • Crisis Management such as last minute cancellations due to a global pandemic or loss of venue booked.
  • Problem solving meetings where the delivery time has exceeded expectations.
  • Retrospective meetings to help teams work through continuous improvement issues.
  • Impact analysis meetings where a change of policy, an incident or event has repercussions on strategy, people or processes.
  • See last minute cancellations due to a global pandemic or loss of venue booked. 

Use the What, So What, What Now to help with:

  • resolving crisis and issues strategically; 
  • gaining new perspectives and understandings;
  • clarifying our assumptions and beliefs, and developing a clear rationale for our actions and approaches;
  • promoting a positive sense of self-awareness and self-confidence
  • taking informed action; and,
  • focusing on a philosophy of continuous growth and improvement.

What, So What, What Now Template

The What, So What, What Now template provides 3 separate columns and allows everyone in the team to collaboratively define the problem and share implications on the project or their work. The thumbs up and thumbs down feature lets you check for consensus along the way.Capture additional comments and move people from problem definition through to creating actions that address and overcome the issue.

How to Do a What, So What, What Now?

Tip To get the most from the What, So What, What Now technique, gather input from a range participants with different perspectives. When you’re working with a large or distributed team, getting everyone together at the same time can be difficult, inconvenient, and costly. Using different technologies like video conferencing, online forms, and collaborative brainstorming software such as GroupMap can help overcome these challenges.


Gather the right people who have insights or are being impacted by the problem.


Vote on the best possible actions and the next steps, so that the items with the most votes can be decided as the right move to mitigate and/or address the issue at hand.


Once the crisis has been mitigated, provide a report on how as a team you came together to decide on this course of action, that can be shared with team members and those on the executive levels.

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Whether you have your best minds together in the same room, or distributed around the world, GroupMap’s unique technology allows groups of up to 2000 to submit ideas independently at separate times, from different places, in different timezones. Prevent dominant personalities swaying the group, drowning out the opinions of others – GroupMap allows everyone to brainstorm independently then effortlessly combines that information to reveal the full spectrum of ideas. GroupMap templates keep the objective front and center throughout the session, keeping everyone on task. This ensures the activity identifies actionable issues rather than becoming just a discussion on ideas. GroupMap gives you all the group decision making tools you need to prioritize, decide and take action.

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