The powerful question “How might we?” is the way the company IDEO turns roadblocks into innovation solutions.
IDEO is the innovation company that is famous for many design advances. Perhaps its most memorable individual product was design was the mouse for Apple’s Lisa Computer. This mouse was more reliable, less expensive, and more responsive than the computer mouse of its predecessors.
IDEO later designed the Logitech 3D mouse and the first-ever ergonomically designed mouse, which it created for Microsoft.
Today IDEO takes its innovation processes to rethinking schools and colleges, iOS applications, architecture, business capabilities, brand development, retail strategies, or any process or product that has reached a roadblock in innovation.
Instead of negative phasing such as “Why won’t this work?” or “Why can’t we succeed?,” IDEO begins with the positive statement of “How might we?”
There are countless speeches, books, articles, videos, and simple quotes restating the same message from Norman Vincent Peale’s book “The Power of Positive Thinking (published in 1936): “Watch your manner of speech if you wish to develop a peaceful state of mind.”
IDEO has taken one simple sentence and made it the starting point for of its entire business. The statement positions solution thinking or innovation mentality as the theme of each project.
Therefore, instead of starting with a mental downer or negative point of view such as “I can’t” or “This won’t work,” IDEO starts with this positive mental statement, “How might we?”