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Kipling’s “Six Wise Men”

If I may, a little story to help you get what you want and need.

Joseph Kipling was one of the most popular writers in England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

He was best known for his book “The Jungle Book” (1894) and short story “The Man Who Would Be King” (1888).

To give you an idea Joseph Kipling influence, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1907.

Also George Orwell, the acclaimed author of “Animal Farm” (1945) and “Nineteen Eighty-Four” (1949), called him a “prophet of British imperialism” in his many essays on Kipling.
You may be wondering why we are bringing all this up…well, let’s get to the point.

Kipling is also widely known for his “Six Wise Men.”

The wise men came from the first verse of a poem which was work titled ‘The Elephant’s Child’. They are often used in executive and management circles as a stimulus for ideas when brain storming or problem solving. (the verse is included at the bottom of the page)

Extracting the names of the six honest serving men we get What, Why, When, How, Where and Who. As mentioned, these are often used in ‘Brainstorming’ sessions to address various aspects of a problem, looking for a solution or planning a project. In particular, they are oftened used when designing and drafting business, government and defense dealings and documents such as:

  • policies, procedures, protocols and rules
  • promotions, claims and declarations
  • laws and government regulations/legislation
  • purchase orders, service level agreements, technical specifications and contracts
  • insurance policies and
  • referenced documents, standards and codes.

They are usefully employed here to help you understand the true nature of the problems, challenges, pains you face as an Executive or an Entrepreneur, whether in private practice, government, defense. They are similarly effective if you are an lobbyist or an sophisticated investor.

Basically, they help you both remove and avoid ‘headaches and heartaches’ you have to deal with on a daily basis. For as you, by now surely know, knowing the truth about a problem, is half way to removing or avoiding it.


  • Top Questions
  • Top HOW Questions
  • Top WHAT Questions
  • Top WHEN Questions
  • Top WHO Questions
  • Top WHERE Questions
  • Top WHY Questions


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.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends’em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!

Kipling, The Elephant’s Child