The How-How Diagram – a remarkably simple way of generating solutions

In his last article, René described how you can discover the root cause of your problem by making use of the 5 Whys method. A technique very similar to the 5 Whys is the How-How Diagram. This technique helps you to explore solutions once you’ve discovered the origin of your problem.

The How-How Diagram

The How-How Diagram helps to clarify what needs to be done and provides you with a clear range of possible solutions. It’s a great tool when you want to break down your solution into bite-sized actions. It’s also a great way to force people to leave their comfort zone of vague promises, and to define specific goals & actions.

How does it work?

1. Define your problem

State your problem clearly and write it on an index card. Make sure your problem is defined as a need, otherwise the How-question won’t work. Stick your problem-card to the wall, on the left side.

2. Ask: How can this be done?

Simply ask ‘How can this be done?’ and generate answers. Stimulate participants to generate as many solutions as possible. Write each idea on a separate card and stick all cards on the wall directly to the right of your problem.

3. Repeat the How? question

Focus on the generated solutions, and ask once more: ‘How can this be done?’

Stimulate participants to generate solutions for each card. Place these ideas in a third row next to the cards (from step 2) they belong to.

Draw horizontal arrows to connect successive actions and place different solutions below each other. Put a vertical arrow combined with the text ‘or’ if the solution is an alternative to another idea.

4. Repeat until satisfied

Repeat the ‘How?’ question until the ideas are specific enough to carry out and you are satisfied with your results.

5. Select to implement 

When you are finished, discuss the outcome and decide which ideas you want to execute.

Below you can find a simplified example of the How-How Diagram in action.

How How Diagram

There you have it, a remarkably simple way of quickly generating actionable solutions. Now all you need to do is implement. Check out the articles below for some tips and tricks on implementing creative ideas:

How To Implement Creative Ideas

Ideas that aren’t implemented are useless. To increase your chances of successful implementation, start by building commitment amongst your team members.

Build a prototype

Before you start pouring money into the realisation of a promising idea, test your assumptions and turn your vision into something tangible…

Survive the Project Plateau 

Implementing ideas can quickly become tedious. The further you develop your idea, the harder it gets to stay committed. Here are three tips to get past that great innovation-killer: the ‘Project Plateau’.

Don't miss out

Receive our biweekly email with our latest articles on business creativity.

We respect your privacy.
Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment

Start typing and press Enter to search

5 Whys - Jefferson Memorial (5x Waarom)Keep it simple / houd het simpel – why simple questions lead to better solutions