A team of colleagues and I are enrolled in our second Human-Centered Design class to learn more about the problem-solving process that seeks to have the end user as the core component of all the design elements. There are many aspects to this process but one concept that you can apply in your work today is asking the question: “How Might We…?”

I have been astonished at the breadth and depth of ideas that come from asking this simple question. How Might We improve health in our community? How Might We reduce absenteeism in our schools? How Might We make fresh food accessible to senior citizens? How Might We provide clean water to impoverished communities in Kenya?

Asking this question at the onset causes you to focus on what you could do rather than being limited by what may be difficult to achieve. It inspires a bit of crazy – we could improve health by building a biodome park to allow activity during inclement weather or we could redesign refrigerators for pullout vegetable drawers or we could offer American Ninja Warrior programs at all elementary schools, etc. How Might We (lovingly abbreviated as HMW since it is used so frequently) places the emphasis on possible solutions and action.

The next time you are faced with a problem at work or home, start generating solutions by asking the HMW question. It is only one small aspect of the overall Human-Centered Design process, but one that packs a mighty punch on its own.

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