"How might we..." : Defining your problems


I had a feedback session with UX Team 4, where @Linlin_Li asked about the famous “How might we…” (HMW) statements. I had forgotten where I read about it; and turns out it is a popular technique used by IDEO during the ideation phase of designs.

^This may be good gist of what it does. One needs to find an HMW statement that is broad yet narrow, a place I like to call the Goldilocks’s Zone. This can be confusing and intimidating and extremely subjective. However, a crisp HMW/Problem Statement/Research Question helps you focus on your designs, especially in larger/distributed projects. It helps to set a ‘vision’.

I searched through one of my older projects where I had an Ideo coach help us create one; luckily I have it vaguely documented. Maybe this may give you an insight on how to mould your HMWs. As always, there is no correct answer to these.

#1 HMW create a network of students to create teams with diverse skillsets that can enhance product development and innovation
^ Very vague

#2 HMW create a network of university students to facilitate teams with multi-disciplinary skillsets to share knowledge and improve collaboration on projects and products
^You may observe that terms have changed, and maybe even the project idea/vision has changed. Perfectly normal

#3 HMW create a network of university students to enable them to form teams of desired skillsets for improved collaboration on projects.
^Who is the intended audience? Univ Students
^What are you making? A network
^Why? Improved collaboration
^Where? On the projects they are working on
^How? By enabling them to form teams of “desired” skilsets (diversity is often desired, something that we realised)

Is it narrow? I guess
Is it broad enough to explore solutions? I guess

Its a messy process; but now that we a have concrete HMW statement, it was easier to come back to the “main problem” that we are solving, instead of accidentally going on other tangents.

Hope this helps! @Others, please feel free to share your questions/experiences with HMWs!

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Hi Rachit,

Thank you for the guidance!@rachit_jain
I feel that our teams HMW statement could be this:
“How might we create a communication platform for STEM-AWAY virtual interns to enable them network and improve collaboration?”

Do you have suggestions about it?


Hahah, I see that my example worked out really well!

“create” a communication platform, I doubt. We already have the communication tools; I’d say you are “improving” them. Try an iteration now?