Design challenge

Turning the problem you want to solve into a clear challenge.

Practical Information

What is this tool?

A tool to help you formulate the problem you are trying to solve in an open and creative way. A design challenge is a question that starts with “How might we…”.

Why do we use it?

A Design Challenge allows you to explore many different facets of your problem. Your design challenge is open ended with no right answer which allows for creativity and innovation but it also helps to set the stage for your project by being very clear on the problem and context.

Design phase:

Setting the scene


Pen and paper


<30 minutes

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A step-by-step guide

1. Write down the problem you are trying to solve in a short sentence. 

2. Formulate this problem into a “How Might We…? (HMW)” statement so that it explains what you want to accomplish. For example: "How might we support in living an healthier life?" or "How might we increase the digital readiness of our target group?"

3. Describe the target group for whom your impact will matter most to. For example: "For Kenyan youth" or "For unemployed women".

4. Explains the approach, mindset, or values you wish to apply in solving the problem. For example "In a way that they are informed about their opportunities" or "in a way they feel in control",

5. Describe the big impact you want to create. For example: "So that Kenyan youth can live longer and have an happier life" or "To create job opportunities for women".

6. Rephrase, if necessary, the final“How might we” question so it allows you to come up with multiple solutions:

How other organisations used this tool

How to use the outcomes of the tool?

Your Design Challenge is the starting point for the design process. It helps to map key actors and perspectives you need to explore before finding a solution. It does not constrain you to one solution to solve yet it helps your team to keep focus throughout your design process.

Related tools

5 x Why
Getting to the core of the problem you are trying to solve.
use the 5xWhy tool if you have trouble in formulating the problem you want to solve
Creating purpose by describing the future you want to achieve
use the Vision tool if you have trouble describing the desired end result
Actor network
Being aware of all the actors that have an effect on your design challenge
after the Design Challenge you can make an Actor Network to map all the actors connected to your problem

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