I keep six honest serving-men!


John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

Sometimes I am asked what the meaning of the W5 is in W5 Coaching.  At W5 Coaching we practice the Socratic Method of teaching.

Socratic inquiry is emphatically not “teaching” in the conventional sense of the word.  The leader of Socratic inquiry is not the purveyor of knowledge, filling the empty minds of largely passive students with facts and truths acquired through years of study.  The Socratic teacher is not “the sage on the stage.” In the Socratic Method, there are no lectures and no need of rote memorization.  But neither, as you might expect, is the Socratic teacher “the guide on the side.”

In the Socratic Method, the experience is a shared dialogue between coach and the client in which both are responsible for pushing the dialogue forward through questioning.  The “teacher,” or leader of the dialogue, asks probing questions in an effort to expose the values and beliefs which frame and support the thoughts and statements of the participants in the inquiry.  The client asks questions as well, both of the teacher and of themselves. The inquiry progresses interactively, and the coach is as much a participant as a guide of the discussion.  Furthermore, the inquiry is open-ended. There is no pre-determined argument or terminus to which the teacher attempts to lead the students.

Given that the Socratic Method is based on asking questions, the 5 core questions have to do with the 5 W’s: Who; What; When; Where and Why.

Or as Rudyard Kipling put it:

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.

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