HMW statements


To help brainstorm new ideas or address opportunities — How Might We (HMW) statements are short questions based on insights or problem areas found during your research.

When To Run This

  • Immediately before Rapid Ideation.
  • You want to turn insights, themes or problems areas from your research into opportunities or alternatives.
  • You’ve hit a wall, and you need to reframe your current problem to move forward.


30 minutes - 1 hour



  • The problem statement


For broad approaches

  • A cross-disciplinary team of people, varying in seniority

For lean approaches

  • one person who’s fully across the project


  • Large print out with HMW template
  • Post-it notes or A5/A4 paper
  • Markers




  • Choose your team (or person, if it’s a lean approach). Make sure that anyone involved understands the user needs, business drivers, commercial opportunities, and be across any research.

  • Define the problem statement. Decide on what you want to explore, whether it’s a current problem statement, an insight, or theme you’ve gathered from research.

Action It:Action It:

  • Create HMW statements by reframing your problem statement or insights.

    • HMW template: How might we (intended experience) for (primary user) so that (desired effect).
    • Example problem statement: Our research showed that kids love getting ice cream from a truck, but on hot days there’s trouble with spillage as kids get back to their families.
    • Example of a good HMW statement: How might we redesign the ice-cream buying experience for kids so that it can be more portable and less messy.
    • Check your statement isn’t too limiting — a good HMW allows for a variety of solutions. E.g: “How might we create a cone to eat ice cream without dripping” is too narrow.
    • Make sure it isn’t too broad — a good HMW helps you come with solutions that have a clear focus. E.g “How might we reimagine dessert” doesn’t focus on the problem that users have.
    • You can start with multiple HMWs and decide on the one you want to go forward with.
  • Make variations of your HMW. As a team, come up with as many as you can and refine these until you have a list which combines both business and user problems, as well as addresses an opportunity.

Next Steps:Next Steps:



  • It should be human-centered — speak to a real need so that you can brainstorm meaningfully.
  • Try not to use boring or safe HMWs as they might lead you in the wrong direction and waste time. For example:
    • “How might we redesign our website?”
    • “How might we make our app more fun?”
  • If you’re having trouble coming up with variations, divide a wall space into 3 sections — business problems, user needs, and opportunities — and ask your team to write the important points into each section.
    • 10 - 15 user needs or frustrations that you’d most like to fix or meet.
    • 10 - 15 interesting business opportunities or insights.
  • Once all sections are filled, pick a point from each to create your new HMWs, keeping the main HMW statement in mind.


It's Going Well When:

  • Each team member is contributing
  • Team members feel inspired by the HMWs
  • You get a few wild and far-fetched ideas during brainstorming
  • The brainstorm feels focused and meaningful

Watch Out For:

  • HMWs that are too broad or narrow
  • Safe or boring HMWs
  • HMWs that don’t spark ideas - this is a sign that it might be too narrow or broad