Things Leaders Say: “How Might We…”

Last week, I introduced you to Chris McQueen, current Head of Community—Created Content for ServiceNow, former Google employee. This week, I want to share something else from McQueen that I think you’ll find helpful.

Any time you cite a problem, turn it into a question that starts with these three words

How Might We…

First of all, turning problems into questions takes us from being a victim to being a problem-solver. But these three specific words are especially empowering. Here’s how:

How exchanges the problem for a question.

Might invites risk and makes it clear we’re just generating ideas without commitment

We enforces teamwork. It would objectify, and I would be a solo act.

For example:

Instead, try:

“Our people don’t understand how much pressure we’re under for profit and loss accountability!”

How might we help our unit understand the factors affecting profit and loss?”

“Fredrika stands in the way of bold ideas. She always plays it too safe, and she’s the CEO!”

How might we better present our ideas to the CEO in ways that help her see how they meet the company’s goals?”

“Our patients complain that they hate our scheduling process, but we need to get all their information so we know how long their appointment will take!”

How might we help our patients be more understanding of the need to provide all their information?”

So, the next time you hear—or state—a difficult problem, see what happens when you reframe it with “How might we…”

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