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How Companies Use “How Might We” Statements To Fuel Innovation

When designing a new product, it’s important to consider the multiple ways that you could approach challenges. Thinking about how you might approach the needs of the customer enables you to brainstorm a variety of solutions to the problem.

“How Might We” statements are becoming more popular ways to execute the ideation stage so that it broadens perspectives and allows ideas to flow. 

In this article, we’re looking at how using “How Might We” statements can improve your chances of innovation and fit into your design process.

What Are “How Might We” Statements Used For?

“How Might We” statements are often used in the ideation stage of design. In the Design Thinking process, the ideation stage follows the Empathize and the Define stages in order to innovate the ideas that you already have on the table.

The ideation stage enables you to:

  • Innovate your product
  • Bring together different perspectives 
  • Create more options for your product
  • Move past the obvious solutions
  • Focus on building the best product possible

How To Use Questions To Innovate

As we’ve seen, the Design Thinking process uses “How Might We” questions to innovate, but how can you use questions in practice to fuel innovation?

A good place to start is by starting questions like “How Might We xyz?”, or “how could we xyz?” in relation to your specific design challenge. For example, if you were Uber in the initial ideation phase of design, you’d ask questions like “How Might We create an app-based tool that allows cheap, easy ride sharing to the general public?”.

This should then be broken down into smaller questions that form the sub-ideas. For example if you were Uber, you might break that initial statement down into “How Might We create an app-based taxi system that puts customer safety first?” or “How Might We create an app-based taxi system that enables lift sharing?”.

Why Do “How Might We” Questions Foster Innovation

  1. They Structure Design Thinking And Organize Ideation

These kinds of questions can be very beneficial, as they structure questioning and enable teams to come up with a variety of new solutions to a problem. Ideation can traditionally be a messy affair with lots of people trying to put their ideas forward in an unstructured manner. “How Might We” questions avoid that trap and ensure that each idea responds to a specific need.

  1. They Break Ideas Down Into Sub-sections

“How Might We” questions also allow teams to break their challenges down into smaller sub-sections that each evoke their own unique responses. In this sense, it opens the design challenges up so that they can be approached from every angle.

  1. They Present Challenges In A Positive Light

When you ask “How Might We” you reframe your question about the challenges of your project into one that has an answer. The framing of the question is positive and suggests that there is an answer – this creates a framework for innovative thinking. This has a great effect on people working on innovation as suddenly their minds are allowed to open up and explore further. 

How Can You Start Using “How Might We” Statements?

Depending on what stage you’re at in the design process, you may be able to start incorporating these kinds of questions. If you haven’t yet started your design process, it is recommended to have an overall plan, so that you know what steps you will take at each stage of the design process.

If you do this, you will be able to plan how you will use the “How Might We” statements and will be able to gather them along the way as different challenges come up. ENO8 is able to guide you through the Design Thinking process from start to finish. Part of the value we bring to our partners is our fluency in the design thinking and design sprint methodologies.

We’d love to discuss how we can assist you. Get in touch to speak to us.


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Jeff Francis

Jeff Francis is a veteran entrepreneur and founder of Dallas-based digital product studio ENO8. Jeff founded ENO8 to empower companies of all sizes to design, develop and deliver innovative, impactful digital products. With more than 18 years working with early-stage startups, Jeff has a passion for creating and growing new businesses from the ground up, and has honed a unique ability to assist companies with aligning their technology product initiatives with real business outcomes.

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