How do you craft a good problem statement/HMW note?

Shavin Peiries Oct 30, 2021 1 min read

How Might We notes (HMWs) are a great way to reframe challenges as opportunities in the form of questions.

When faced with a design challenge, it's important to consider a variety of options early on rather than limiting yourself to a few viable options. In Design Thinking, this process is called diverging.

The HMW note is portable enough to allow individuals in a team to rally around a challenge that they think is important while also giving them the right level of creative freedom when it's time to think of solutions.

To do so, there are a few elements that make an effective HMW that allows teams to accomplish the above goal:

  1. It starts with How Might We (commonly overlooked but it's essential to have a standardised language)
  2. It contains the intended action e.g. "How might we redesign the buying experience for..."
  3. Mentions the target audience e.g. "... Urban Pie Lovers"
  4. Contains the desired outcome from the consumers perspective e.g. "... so that they can take delight in eating our hot pies in their office". The desired outcome is either to make something more awesome or less awful.

It's worth mentioning that a note with too many loose ends, such as "HMW increase revenue," should be avoided (every business wants that).

On the other hand, if the language used in the note sounds solution-oriented "HMW make the button blue", you've made it too specific.

Hopefully, this provides you with the necessary form to know the difference between a good or bad HMW and turn you into an HMW note-taking superstar!

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