The Secret Phrase That Sparks Creative Solutions

October 23, 2012

I spoke with writer Warren Berger recently for his Harvard Business Review post on "the secret phrase top innovators use." What's the phrase? Three words: How Might We.

Within this deceptively simple phrase each word plays a powerful role in spurring creative problem-solving.

"How" assumes that solutions exist and provides the creative confidence needed to identify and solve for unmet needs.

"Might" says that we can put ideas out there that might work or might not—either way, we'll learn something useful.

"We" signals that we're going to collaborate and build on each other's ideas to find creative solutions together.

Asking "How might we" at the start of a team project is a creative problem-solving tool that can be applied to almost any ambitious, achievable challenge.

Read Berger's full HBR post to learn more about why some of the most successful and influential businesses in the world now tackle difficult creative challenges by first asking, "How might we… improve X, solve Y, or achieve Z goal?’ Then try a 'How Might We' approach to reframe the problem and spark creative solutions during your next team challenge.

(posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)