HMW, short for “How Might We …?”, is an analytical technique relying on actionable questions asked from a particular point of view on a specific problem. They can be used to spur creative problem solving and produce insights, which lead to significant innovation. It can be used for Brainstorming, but is not necessarily a brainstorming approach. HMW is frequently used as part of Design Thinking sessions.
Made popular by Procter & Gamble in the 1970s, but origin may be tracked as far back as Greek philosophers
You need a challenge, a Point of View and a set of relevant questions starting with “How Might We …?”
- The challenge/problem statement is critical for good results and may take time to formulate. It should not imply a solution or be too broad (boiling the ocean)
- The point of view allow for use of empathy for the key actors.
- Multiple HMW questions could be asked in order to dive deeper in the challenge and unveil different perspectives. The following are different perspectives, which can be used to look at the challenge through HMW questions:
HMW allows for creative problem-solving and going out of the established path of thinking. Especially when a lot of time has been spent on a particular direction and the team has developed “group think” or feels stuck.
It helps in breaking frames and molds and lead to innovative solutions.
It can easily “plug” and enhance many other practices, especially when you seek innovation.
Check out these great links which can help you dive a little deeper into running the How Might We _____ ? practice with your team, customers or stakeholders.