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The How might we…? question is a specific phrase, which is used for framing the challenge that the students want to develop solutions for. By asking the simple yet constructive question: How might we…? it is emphasized that there are many different ways to solve a challenge (with “How might”) and that it is something that “we” do together.

Formulating How might we …? questions can be done to follow-up on a research phase just before brainstorming on ideas for solutions – e.g. by letting the students transform their insights from e.g. field work and other research into How might we …? questions.

When developing How might we …? questions divergent thinking is applied in order to brainstorm on the possibilities that are within the student projects. You can either choose to develop many different How might we …? questions or decide on an overall How might we …? question.

A good How might we …? question uses a clear, understandable language and inspires to research new and alternate facets of a problem area as well as specific ideas for solutions. Please be aware that the students develop appropriate questions that are neither too broad, overly constrained or solution-oriented:

  • An example of a question that is too abstract and ambitious: How might we perfect the user experience?
  • An example of a question that is too narrow and solution-oriented: How might we improve the user experience by placing a table football game in the common room?
  • An example of a appropriate question: How might we help patients maintain their social identity while being users at ‘the Patient’s House’?

Instructions

Prior to the exercise, students should have gained an overview of all of their research data, e.g. by using the Cluster Analysis method possibly supplemented by a user journey of the current practice.

The How might we …? question is created and formulated on a poster. The poster can also be beneficial for short presentations to group members or other participants.

The How might we …? question can be built upon 4 parts:

  1. Name of the theme/project
  2. Selected key insights from the research (facts about the users and the organisation, industry trends, etc.)
  3. Problem definition and possibly a problem analysis
  4. An overall or several How might we …? questions inspired by the insights from the project.

Use the poster with How might we …? questions for a subsequent idea development process, please find suitable methods in the “Idea generation” category in the list of methods here.

Preparation

Create a guideline of what elements the poster should include – this shouldn’t take more than 5-10 minutes. Get some flipcharts and other poster making materials as well as coloured markers.

Sources

Parnes, S. (1967). Creative Behavior Guidebook. New York: Scribner.

Brown, T. (2009). Change by Design, How Design Thinking Transforms Organizations and Inspires Innovation. Harper Collins Publishers.

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