See All My Projects

Define How Can We’s

How can we define the change we want to make and what our solution needs to accomplish?


Develop How Can We statements once your team finished initial research, gained insights, and identified opportunity areas.

How Can We statements focus your ideation and further research on specific challenges by forming specific question: “How Can We + user + behavior + place”

Focus on insights, not specific solutions.

  • Focusing on your insight to create HCWs will prepare you for generating potential solutions in Ideate. The specificity will come as you Ideate your solutions and focus on specific attributes.
    1. HCW provide children with safe and creative play experience in urban neighborhoods? focuses on a user, a behavior, and a place without being solution dependent.
    2. HCW use smart technology to provide children with safe urban neighborhoods to play in? focuses on a solution, smart technology, which will limit your brainstorm and make your team too attached to a particular idea.
  • You should be able to generate many different ideas from a good HCW. If you can only think of 2 or 3 ideas for a HCW, rephrase it.
  • If you do come up with a solution, don’t throw them away. Keep them in the “fridge” and revisit when your team starts to brainstorm.

The HCWs above are from DFA NU's Fruit Buddi, and they each have a user, behavior, and place that are specific enough to lead to a generative brainstorm but not too specific that they only lead to one type of solution.

Effective ways to do this include:

  1. Download the Reframe 1-Pager to review with your team.
    • The Reframe 1-pager has examples of HCWs and questions to consider as you are working on this step of the process to make sure your HCWs address the insights you have uncovered in your research
  2. Review major insights and identified opportunity spaces from your team’s research
  3. Individually brainstorm different HCWs that can address your insights
  4. Share and cluster HCWs
  5. Solidify 3-4 HCWs that your team is excited to move forward with and that address the insights and problem area you found

Network Best Practices

Create multiple HCWs and build on them like DFA Virginia Tech

DFA Virginia Tech created a number of How Can We's by reviewing their insights from immerse to identify major users, behaviors, and places. Then they started making a variety of HCWs based on the different insights they found. After they were done they compared their HCWs to the Scoping Wheel to be sure they were still working on a strong social topic!