Time required:

15-30 min

Number of participants:

Yourself or the team your are working on the challenge with


The tool or a piece of paper


IDEO for the original HMW-approach. This particular version of the tool I have developed.


Want to hear more about How Might We… turn problems into opportunities??

Want to hear more about How Might We… turn problems into opportunities??

We often start with a problem we want to solve, when working design driven. However a problem focus is not the best mindset to be in, when starting to come up with ideas for solutions – thinking in problems, usually restricts your creativity more than focusing on the opportunities to create value for your target group. This tool help you define a good innovation question, that sparks your creativity moving forward in the process of exploring ideas.

If you haven’t already been looking into how the problem you are working on affects people and other stakeholders, go back and do that. If you have little time, you might want to consider using this simple role playing tool to help you better understand those you are designing for. (Link coming soon)

Understand the tool

The ‘How Might We-question’ (HMW) tool helps you go from your problem to focusing on the opportunity to create value (while also solving the problem).

The HMW question is simply a question that starts with “How might we….?” And it helps you come up with good ideas of how to create value for your user group.

It is hard to come up with good HMW-questions since they should inspire your creativity while at the same time narrow your focus and make the original problem or challenge more focused. By filling in the three boxes, this tool will guide you in generating good HMW-questions, by facilitating the decisions of who your end user or target group for your solution or initiatives is, what value you believe would meet their needs and in what situation or context you would best provide this value.

How to use the tool:

  • Start by brainstorming for each of the three questions, what a possible answer could be. Discuss which are the best and make a few different versions, where the answer to the three questions match particularly good.
  • You might one to keep working on several HMWs at this point, but you can also pick the one out that you think will work best at this point.
  • Now consider each of your answers to the three questions, and discuss for each answer, what would be a more narrow or specific answer AND what would be a more broad or general answer. So if you answered children as the target group, a more narrow/specific answer could be children in that age range 5-7year and a more broad general answer could be people.
  • At this point, decided how broad or narrow your HMW should be, is a choice of intuition. You have to feel which combination of the possible answers ranging narrow and broad possibilities, makes sparks your creativity and inspiration  (yes it’s fluffy i know, but you will feel it). A rule of thumb is, that the more process iterations you have been through and the closer to a final solutions your are, the more specific and narrow your HMW will need to be.
  • When you have decided on the right filled in the three boxes, write out your whole HMW-question on a post it

Other tools and methods:

  • Speeddating your user while making personas

    When it's not possible for you to talk directly with your user, you might invite them on an imaginative date?

    Speeddating your user while making personas

  • Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

    Go to the future to challenge your assumptions, biases and suspend your inner critical voice, by using this tool originally designed by Stuart Candy

    Thing of the Future – A Speculative Warm-Up

  • 5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

    Test, test, test.. You can never test your ideas ioo early or too often. The 5 Step Storyboard is a quick way to communicate your idea and get feedback.

    5 Step Storyboarding
    – Use storytelling as prototype

  • Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept

    Create Pre-Concepts for your early ideas to better assess what will work and what needs further development.

    Give shape to your idea – The Pre Concept