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How to Write Good How Might We’s

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written by Johannes Ippen. founder of Human Deluxe, @johannesippen

What the heck is a «How Might We»? Let’s start at the beginning: When we run workshops with a client, it is usually about a unique challenge or problem that need to be addressed. To get started on finding creative solutions for those problems, we use a technique called How Might We, or HMW in short. The trick is quite simple: You take a problem, write it down and rephrase it, starting with “How Might We”.

Easy, right?

Usually, at some point in the workshop, we ask participants to call out all the problems and challenges they currently experience. When things go well, we usually end up with a full slide of 20-30 different challenges.

Problems

After voting and weighting the problems, we ask participants to rephrase the problems. Here is how you do it:

  1. Take a problem statement, e.g. “We don’t have enough customers”
  2. Take a sticky note and write “How might we …” or simply “HMW” in the top right corner.
  3. Rephrase the problem statement, so that it makes sense: “How might we … get more customers”

This is a simple and very helpful exercise if done correctly. However, we regularly encounter participants who (how to put this in a nice way…?) fuck it up. That is fine, not everyone needs to be a pro. But you can be one! To write awesome HMWs, there’s a few things to keep in mind:

Don’t be too generic

HMWs should be actionable. A HMW statement like “How might we … Have a better business” or “…save the world” or even “… get more customers” is too much on the blue ocean side of things. Try to be more specific. A good way is to focus on one aspect of the problem, like “… get more paying customers”.

Don’t be too specific

HMWs should still be a challenge, not an instruction. A trap that many people fall into is anticipating the solution in the HMWs. For example: “HMW … turn all website call to action buttons blue” or “… get more paying customers by running facebook ads”. Try to avoid this and keep it open. Keep the answer out of the HMW.

Don’t combine

Some problems come in packages – but the challenge might not. “We’re not good and fast enough” might be rephrased to “HMW … be faster and better?”. These are actually 2 challenges: “HMW … be faster in product development” and “HMW … have a higher quality standard?”. Don’t be afraid to split up HMWs to make them powerful.

HMW Template

If you do them right, HMWs can be a terrific and will become a very helpful tool for you. Don’t be afraid to create a lot and focus on one at a time.

Even better, start now by trying out this technique: Get our free Lightning Decision Jam Template and take a stab at developing creative solutions for your business challenge: Lightning Decision Jam Template (free)

Author
written by Johannes Ippen. founder of Human Deluxe, @johannesippen