# How Might We

# Phase: 🎨 Problem shaping
Focus: Diverge


Time commitment: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy
Materials needed: Meeting space (physical or virtual), whiteboard and stickies (physical or virtual), participants from a variety of technical and cultural perspectives (the more of these, the more useful)
Who should participate: User experience designers, product/project owners, developers, community specialists
Best for: Generating a number of ideas quickly without becoming too solution-focused too soon

# About this tool

Brainstorming is great, but it often faces the critique that it encourages participants to fall in love with the solution, not the problem. If either your problem or your team runs the risk of falling into that trap, a "how might we" exercise may be a more effective approach. "How might we" exercise differs from traditional brainstorming because you're often generating as many questions as you are generating answers, and participants are placing equal weight on each. Get started with "how might we" by ...

  1. Gather particpants (internal stakeholders or actual users) from as wide a variety of perspectives as possible; this is important because it encourages diverse questions, which in turn encourages diverse perspectives on answers further along in your design process.
  2. Start with a problem statement or insight statement about the issue to hand and encourage participants to come up with as many related questions as possible beginning in "how might we ..." For example, if the insight statement is "people believe in the inherent goodness of installing software packages through distributed means, but they don't do so because it's too slow and availability is an issue", some "how might we" questions might be:
  3. How might we speed up downloading packages in slow firewalled environments?
  4. How might we encourage user adoption in order to improve availability?
  5. How might we persuade users to take a time hit in order to do something they believe is inherently good?
  6. How might we make it an easy fallback to downloading packages in a different way if resources outside the firewall are unavailable?
  7. Once you're done, revert to traditional brainstorming to generate as many answers as possible to the "how might we" questions you've generated. You're likely to find a much wider diversity of potential solutions than if you'd just started with solutioning right off the bat!