What is How Might We?

Why is it needed?

To help brainstorm new ideas or address opportunities — How Might We (HMW) statements are short questions based on insights or problem areas found during your research. Challenges are often opportunities in disguise. The “How Might We” method creates an atmosphere for innovative solutions by reframing known challenges that surround your product, service, or initiative.

Every problem is an opportunity for design. By framing your challenge as a How Might We question, you’ll set yourself up for an innovative solution.

By defining themes and insights, you’ve identified problem areas that pose challenges to the people you’re designing for. Now, try reframing your insight statements as How Might We questions to turn those challenges into opportunities for design. We use the How Might We format because it suggests that a solution is possible and because they offer you the chance to answer them in a variety of ways. A properly framed How Might We don’t suggest a particular solution, but gives you the perfect frame for innovative thinking.

“How Might We” statements always start with the same three words, which creates a positive solution-oriented framing.

  • How — acknowledges that we don’t know the answer yet but believe this problem can be solved
  • Might — acknowledges there can be more than one solution and that we shouldn’t stop at the first idea. “Might” also acknowledges that not every solution will work, but it’s still ok to discuss and explore ideas that might not pan out
  • We — acknowledges that the team is invested in solving this problem together

STEPS

  1. Start by looking at the insight statements that you’ve created. Try rephrasing them as questions by adding “How might we” at the beginning.
  2. The goal is to find design opportunities, so if your insights suggest several How Might We questions that’s great.
  3. Now take a look at your How Might We question and ask yourself if it allows for a variety of solutions. If it doesn’t, broaden it. Your How Might We should generate several possible answers and will become a launchpad for your Brainstorms.
  4. Finally, make sure that your How Might We’s aren’t too broad. It’s a tricky process but a good How Might We should give you both a narrow enough frame to let you know where to start your Brainstorm, but also enough breadth to give you room to explore wild ideas.

Considerations

  • It should be human-centered — speak to a real need so that you can brainstorm meaningfully.
  • Try not to use boring or safe HMWs as they might lead you in the wrong direction and waste time. For example: “How might we redesign our website?” or “How might we make our app more fun?”
  • If you’re having trouble coming up with variations, divide a wall space into 3 sections — business problems, user needs, and opportunities — and ask your team to write the important points into each section.
  • 10–15 user needs or frustrations that you’d most like to fix or meet.
  • 10–15 interesting business opportunities or insights.
  • Once all sections are filled, pick a point from each to create your new HMWs, keeping the main HMW statement in mind.

WHEN TO RUN THIS

  • Immediately before Rapid Ideation.
  • You want to turn insights, themes, or problem areas from your research into opportunities or alternatives.
  • You’ve hit a wall, and you need to reframe your current problem to move forward.

Signals

IT’S GOING WELL WHEN:

  • Each team member is contributing.
  • Team members feel inspired by the HMWs.
  • You get a few wild and far-fetched ideas during brainstorming.
  • The brainstorm feels focused and meaningful.

WATCH OUT FOR:

  • HMWs that are too broad or narrow.
  • Safe or boring HMWs.
  • HMWs that don’t spark ideas — this is a sign that it might be too narrow or broad.

Few samples :

  • How might we ensure more people pay their taxes before the deadline?
  • How might we help employees stay productive and healthy when working from home?
  • How might we make customers feel that their information is safe and secure when creating an account?

For example:

Insight →Users are often unsure about which form to complete when they file their taxes.

HMW (poor)How might we tell users which form to complete to file their taxes?

HMW (good)How might we make users feel confident they are filing their taxes correctly?

Product Enthusiast, currently hooked to upskilling my knowledge about product management. Firmly believe in People, Principles, Products, and Processes.