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Is "How Might We" the wrong thing to ask?


Design Thinking and Lean UX are examples of two approaches that use the prompt:

“How Might We”

for ideation, innovation and creativity.

Is this the wrong thing to ask?

Well the brain loves a playful question and the word “might” is playful so it ticks that box. Having the word “we” also encourages people to feel included in the group.

So why am I asking if it’s the wrong thing to ask?

Well when I’m asked “How Might We”, I feel like I’m being asked to conform and find answers that are feasible for the whole group. Part of my thinking goes to figuring out what people in the group are able and willing to do. I’m not being as creative as I could be.

To be truly creative and innovative, I need the freedom to think for myself without constraint using my own experience, knowledge and insight.

So imagine we’re part of a group and instead of asking me “How Might We”, you ask me:

“How do you think we might”

In asking this question, you’re showing that you value me for my own, independent thinking. This prompt releases me from focusing on convergent, feasible ideas and instead gives me the freedom to generate my own ideas. It gives me the courage to think authentically and go to the cutting edge of my thinking.

And, in case you’re wondering, it doesn’t mean that we’re all creating such diverse ideas that we’re pulling in different directions. In the end, even the finest ideas are a product of individuals considering other individuals' ideas. Sometimes the breakthrough idea is a leap made by one person, but it is a product of everyone’s ideas having been considered by everyone.

So my thinking on:

Is “How Might We” the wrong thing to ask?

Is that it’s not wrong and the word “might” makes it a playful question BUT adding the words “do you think” gives each person the authority to play and to think for themselves. They’re released from having to conform and instead are asked to generate their own ideas.

While I know this is a subtlety and you may think it’ll make no difference, why not experiment and try it out? If you do give it a go, please do let me know what you noticed by using this approach.

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