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Crafting Innovation: The Power of ‘How Might We’ Questions in Building a Better Business

Ask a better question. Build a better product. Build a better business.

Questions are a critical tool for organizations to innovate.

It helps people learn and share ideas, makes new and improved things happen, and brings the team closer. Also, it can lower the chances of problems by finding unexpected issues and risks.

‘How Might We’ Questions: A Vital Tool for Innovation

Ever found yourself in a brainstorming session, only to be derailed by suggestions that don’t address the core issues?

Enter “How Might We” (HMW) questions.

Originating from Procter & Gamble in the 1970s and popularized by IDEO, HMWs have become a cornerstone in design thinking, guiding teams toward solutions that matter.



What are HMWs?


These questions frame problems in an open-ended, positive manner, spurring creative ideation.
E.g., “How might we help employees maintain productivity and well-being while remote working?”

What is the HMW (How Might We) template?
Here is the template for asking How Might We questions: ‘How might we <take an action> for <customer / user / stakeholder> in order to <affect a result / a benefit / an outcome>’.



Why HMWs Matter:


They ensure alignment with real user challenges.
They promote innovative solutions without pre-empting any particular direction.



Here are 5 Tips to Craft Effective HMWs:


1. Start with Concrete Problems:


Instead of “How might we improve user experience?”, ask “How might we raise awareness of our product range?” based on user feedback.



2. Avoid Pre-determined Solutions:


Replace “How might we inform users about the correct tax form?” with “How might we boost user confidence in tax filing?”



3. Keep HMWs Broad Yet Relevant:


Evolve “How might we aid users in error-checking?” to “How might we support efficient, error-free submissions?”



4. Focus on Desired Outcomes:


Rather than “How might we reduce user calls?”, ask “How might we bolster user confidence in our application process?”



5. Phrase Positively:


Transform “How might we lessen return complications?” to “How might we streamline and simplify the return process?”



In Practice:


Engage your team in crafting and refining HMWs. Prioritize them, ensuring they are broad, rooted in user insights, and set the stage for constructive ideation.



In conclusion, HMW questions are more than just a format – they’re a mindset.

By anchoring our ideation process on customer-centric issues, we set the stage for solutions that resonate and make a difference.

What are your thoughts about HMW questions?

#design #designthinking #productmanagement #businessperformance #brainstorming

Data: IDEO, Salesforce, Stanford D School

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