How Might We Technique 101—Ultimate HMW Guide

How Might We Technique 101—Ultimate HMW Guide | OmiSoft

If you are here, you probably have already heard about the “How Might We” method, also known as HMW. It can help your startup develop software with the best set of functionality for the target user.

HMW technique Recap

As the business concept, this method was invented back in the 1970s, but it had been around since ancient philosophy. If put short HMW technique is a model of formulating questions that help to formulate new creative ideas.

If your name isn’t Socrates, and you’re ambitious enough to be an observant listener, moderator of brainstorming rounds, and a productive member of the team—this technique will come in handy. Now, let’s dive more into its peculiarities.

How and why do we use the “how might we” method?

If we go back 5-7 years age, there was a trend of developing an app or website with as extensive functionality as possible. Top dev teams were doing their best to get the max number of registrations, buttons, hyperlinks, animation, and any other creative ideas. But everything is different now.

Modern businesses don’t need a bunch of functions with no use, they try to create products with the most convenient functionality for the target audience (TA). For that, they need to have a clear understanding of the TA’s desires and needs. Why?

  • To meet end-user demands
  • Don’t spend time and resources on redundant features

The main goal of the HMW method is to create “the best” product for a certain user category. Developers make it possible by organizing brainstorming sessions, which, on the one hand, is convenient, but on the other hand, it’s important to have an interesting structuring frame for ideas flow to be able to provide what exactly the user wants.

When should you use HMW?

Here are a few most effective ways of how might we method usage:

  • Just after a briefing with the client (it allows to outline basic and secondary goals)
  • As finalization of the Discovery Phase  (when you are auditing outcomes to develop the best product possible)
  • During potential TA interview (but it’s essential to have a right test TA, otherwise it can be just a waste of time) 

Let’s look at the example. Imagine that you want to develop a mobile app for a language school. So, children or adults can self-study theory in-app during the lockdown, but also book 1-on-1 private lessons with a teacher. To know what a potential client wants, you need:

  • Talk to test users
  • Google competitors in the niche
  • Realize the goal of your app
  • Understand the value of it

In our case, it can be ease and transparency of the learning environment. As that’s exactly what most students of classic language schools look for.

What questions tricks do you need to use HMW statements like a pro?

Well, actually there is no extensive list of rules on how to formulate “How Might We” questions. The only advice is:

The clearer you formulate the question, the better the answer you get

So to get the best answer possible, the questions have to include both the issue and room for a creative solution. It’s believed that properly formulated questions make up around 70% of good brainstorming.

Essentials for a HMW session

Let’s imagine that you want to use the HMW method to talk to your TA, for that you’ll need:

  1. A team—usually around 6-12 people, everything depends on the project scale
  2. “Moderator/Interviewer”—a person who will help speakers, moderate the process and record the conversation
  3. Representative(s) of the respective TA

Here at OmiSoft, when we use the HMW technique for our projects we usually have a script to stay on topic. Yet, staying on topic and being a robot are not the same. We believe that the best interview is a mix of scripting and improvisation and it allows us to have the most natural test communication with potential users.

Dos

Dont’s

  • Use affirmative language at the beginning of your question and then add the “why” part
  • Don’t be too general. HMW must include what you have already learned about the market/product/TS, otherwise, it will be pointless
  • Add common problems. Having a positive approach is great, but facing problems found during the Discovery Phase is also a smart move
  • Don’t overcomplicate or narrow the question
  • Make questions positive and neutral
  • Don’t put answers in the question you ask 
E.g. While analyzing the language teaching market we found that many students have delays in finishing their language levels and a teacher offers more classes to earn more. How can we help the studying process to be more transparent? e.g. Don’t ask, “How can our app help you track your learning progress?” Better ask, “How we can help users to be more in control of the studying process?”

But what to do next when an HMW session is over?

Asking a proper question and implementing the HMW technique the right way is great, but it’s worth nothing if you don’t finalize the results. So, to make the most out of your session:

  • Sort out the received information 
  • Look for insights on your main goals
  • Determine distinct user requests to meet 

As a rule, 6-8 interviews with the TA are enough to find out what users want to solve by using the app in question. But if the topic is big, you might need more details on TA study, around 10 (12 max).q

If HMW is a part of team brainstorming it’s important to:

  • Re-process the answers received 
  • Classify them 
  • Select favorites

Some insights to come when we are processing the received ideas. After carefully taking care of all the new ideas, we work with a software development team on their implementation.

The bottom line

You can see that “How We Might” is an amazing technique that helps pro developers to deliver better products with utmost user-friendliness. No wonder why all leading software and mobile development companies are using it in 2022.

Here at OmiSoft, we use HMW as we strongly believe that a truly client-oriented company is not creating just anything it wants, but it makes exactly what final users need.

If you want HMW to be implemented in your mobile app or web solutions, drop us a line or book a free consultation with a niche expert!

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