The Importance of the 'How might we' Question in solving Epic Problems...

by Sarah Nally

How Might We...

Turn your questions and problems into questions that invite your brain to solve...

The notion of design as a "way of thinking" in the sciences can be traced to Herbert A. Simon's 1969 book The Sciences of the Artificial, and in design engineering to Robert McKim's 1973 book Experiences in Visual Thinking. The evolution of design thinking can be explored in this epic article <read article here>

Design thinking refers to the cognitive, strategic and practical processes by which design concepts (proposals for new products, buildings, machines, etc.) are developed by designers and/or design teams. Many of the key concepts and aspects of design thinking have been identified through studies, across different design domains, of design cognition and design activity in both laboratory and natural contexts.[1][2]

Design thinking is also associated with prescriptions for the innovation of products and services within business and social contexts.[3][4] Some of these prescriptions have been criticized for oversimplifying the design process and trivializing the role of technical knowledge and skills

Design Thinking is famous for the solution focus and the framing of the problem, specifically using 'how might we' questions to invite your brain to solve particularly wicked and epic problems.

In my experience, the frame you put around your insights and points of view determines the success of your solution. Just like any process, there are lots of tips along the way to ensure success, but the how might we frame for launching brainstorms is one of the simplest but most powerful tools for creating epically creative and innovative solutions. When we take a moment during the construction of the HMW statement, we challenge our bias and also self locate in the process to see whether we have truly digested and understood the data captured to this point. It can be such a powerful tool for capturing insights and getting you closer to a feasible, viable and desirable solution.

What is framing? In social sciences, it is the collective framing comprises a set of concepts and theoretical perspectives on how individuals, groups, and societies, organize, perceive, and communicate about reality.

Framing can manifest in thought or interpersonal communication. Frames in thought consist of the mental representations, interpretations, and simplifications of reality. Frames in communication consist of the communication of frames between different actors.[1]

In social theory, framing is a schema of interpretation, a collection of anecdotes and stereotypes, that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events.[2] In other words, people build a series of mental "filters" through biological and cultural influences. They then use these filters to make sense of the world. The choices they then make are influenced by their creation of a frame.

The same goes for the Design Thinking or Appreciative Inquiry Methods for Epic Problem solving. The choices we make influence the frame and the frame influences the way we make sense of the world.

Stanfords D.School is particularly well known for the power of framing questions to launch brainstorms

The frame we put on the problem space invites very different ideas. Being creative, scientific, open minded and playful whilst crafting your epic and juicy HMW questions is part of the fun of Design Thinking and Appreciative Inquiry. In Appreciative Inquiry - The Constructionist Principle, derived from 'Social Constructionist' theory, states that the language we use shapes our social reality. Meaning is made in conversation, and what emerges as knowledge is a broad social agreement created among people through communication, 'words create worlds' and so to does a how might we question shape the invitation to the brainstorming to solve the EPIC and WICKED problems.

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