How might we

Opening up discussions in new directions by asking 'how might we ... ?'

Published on 
2 min, 330 words

Categories: book work

The simple use of the phrase "how might we" can open up design discussions and improve company mission statements.

In the book "A more beautiful question", there is a quote from Tim Brown, the chief executive of IDEO:

When his firm takes on a design challenge of almost any type, it invariably starts by asking How might we? Brown observes that within the phrase, each of those three words plays a role in spurring creative problem solving: “The how part assumes there are solutions out there—it provides creative confidence. Might says we can put ideas out there that might work or might not—either way, it’s okay. And the we part says we’re going to do it together and build on each other’s ideas.”

This can then be taken further and applied to company mission statements:

What if we were to take the typical mission statement and hang a question mark on the end of it? ... It seems appropriate to take that static statement and transform it into a more open-ended, fluid mission question that can still be ambitious (replacing, for example, We make the world a better place through robotics! with How might we make the world a better place through robotics?). By articulating the company mission as a question, it tells the outside world, “This is what we’re striving for—we know we’re not there yet, but we’re on the journey.” It acknowledges room for possibility, change, and adaptability.

I took the tagline on the website of the company I work for and followed this approach. It went from "The identity platform for building trust" to "How might create the identity platform for building trust" - which sounds a lot more interesting and opens it up for further discussion and exploration.


A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas


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