How Might We Question

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How Might We Question

Description

The purpose of a How Might We question is to frame a problem in a way that helps teams focus and identify many possible solutions. How Might We is a staple of the design thinking process which focuses on creating innovative solutions through empathy, collaboration, and iteration. How Might We questions are used as a launchpad for brainstorming ideas at the beginning of a design phase. By reframing known challenges as questions, teams are free to explore without judgement. Using the language of “how might we” rather than “how can or should I” helps you make your ideation process more open and collaborative.

Question

What problem are we trying to develop potential solutions for?

Steps

  1. Start by establishing an understanding of the core challenge or opportunity you intend to explore. Review research that helps to paint a full and accurate picture of the underlying problem you are trying to solve.
  2. Begin writing many different versions of How Might We questions based on your understanding of the problem space. Stop once you have exhausted all reasonable options. You now have your potential questions.
  3. Review your potential questions for aperture. Remove or revise those that are so narrow that they will overly-constrain ideation, and those that are so broad that teams will be unable to manage scope.
  4. Review your potential questions for focus. Remove or revise those that may be tangential or do not focus on the outcome that you are driving towards. Be careful not to bake in a solution into a question.
  5. Finally, review your more qualified list of potential questions and select the one that will focus your team and inspire the most creativity. Refine the phrasing of the question to be as clear and compelling as possible.

Considerations

  • It is helpful to develop a How Might We question as a team, particularly when the problem space is new or fuzzy.
  • Phase your question in a positive way (e.g., ‘accomplish’) rather than a negative way (e.g., ‘avoid’) to inspire your team.
  • Ensure you have completely aligned on your How Might We question before you move into brainstorming.

References

The How Might We process is credited to Min Basadur and has been popularized by IDEO

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