Point of view (POV) - Problem statement & How might we (HMW) questions

Yaroslav Zhmikhov
Yaroslav Zhmikhov
10059 April, 28, 2022 4 min read
10059 April, 28, 2022 4 min read


This is one of the main stages of Design thinking, which will indicate the problems that your users want you to solve with your design. To write the problem statement, use the Point of View (POV) structure, which will help you write all your design problems correctly, which will subsequently be preformulated into How might we (HMW) questions so that you can start brainstorming solutions at the Ideation stage for using certain methodologies.

A problem statement (POV) is a brief description of the problem (or need) that needs to be solved.

How might we (HMW) are short questions that start the process of generating ideas and solutions.

An example of a point of view (POV) and how might we (HMW) for an online e-learning platform

An example of a point of view (POV) and how might we (HMW) for an online e-learning platform

The purpose of the POV

Define, and formulate the right tasks so that you can solve them purposefully, where you will focus solely on the target audience, their needs, and your insights.

The purpose of the HMW questions

Encourage the team to brainstorm or another Ideation session where the team will ask questions (based on the POV) and look for innovative solutions to these design challenges.

Value for the team

Formulating POV and HMW questions will allow the team to understand what the problems are in the user and how to solve these problems with innovative solutions.

Value for business

The team will discover a large number of problems (needs), and generate innovative solutions that can later be prioritized and implemented into the product.


  • Preparation: up to 30 minutes
  • Main activity: from 8 to 16 hours

Creating process:

Step 1. Unlock all artifacts from previous explorations

Refresh your memories and ask the whole team to do the same before you start the POV process.

If you have not conducted interviews with real users, have not compiled empathy maps (have not identified insights and needs), then this is very bad since all your further work will be the result of the subjective opinion of the team and stakeholders, which may not reflect the real picture and take you into the wrong direction.

Step 2. Go back to your empathy maps that you were doing

We looked for INSIGHTS in them, and based on them we found NEEDS.

[INSIGHT] Users often look for ways to assess their performance in learning a foreign language themselves, since teachers do not always pay attention to this, and sometimes even skip such conversations, and this greatly affects their motivation > [NEED] Users should be able to receive reports on the work in a foreign language lesson, as well as on success over a certain period.

Step 3. Write down your POVs according to the formula

[User . . . (descriptive)] needs [Need . . . (verb)] because [Insight . . . (compelling)]

[Nina] [NEEDS] to be able to receive feedback on her work in a foreign language class, as well as a progress report for a certain period [BECAUSE] she often looks for ways to evaluate herself since teachers do not always give her feedback on her progress.

[USER] is our empirical persona (not a proto-persona a.k.a. non-empirical persona) that we create based on previous research.

Step 3. Reformulate the POV problem in the HMW question

In this way, you will prepare HMW questions that will help you find innovative solutions at the Ideation stage, where you can use different techniques with your team: Six thinking hats, Brainstorming, or The Walt Disney Creativity strategy.

Example: How might we help Nina get feedback on her class and progress over some time?

OTAKOYI UX design program:

Stage 1. Business research:

  • Step 1. Preparatory & Secondary research (Desk research)
  • Step 2. Kick-off meeting & Stakeholder interviews
  • Step 3. Business model canvas (BMC)
  • Step 4. Competitive analysis
  • Step 5. SWOT analysis
  • Step 6. Business process model and notation 2.0+ (BPMN)

Stage 2. User research:

  • Step 7. User interviews (based on proto-persona) & Hypothesis
  • Step 8. Focus groups
  • Step 9. Surveys
  • Step 10. Empathy mapping (uncovering insights & identifying needs)
  • Step 11. User personas
  • Step 12. Point of view (POV) — Problem statement & How might we (HMW) questions

Stage 3. Strategy phase:

  • Step 13. Business & User Goals
  • Step 14. Value proposition canvas (VPC) — additional POVs and value descriptions
  • Step 15. Customer journey map (CJM)
  • Step 16. Service blueprint

Stage 4. Ideation phase:

  • Step 17. Ideation (Six thinking hats, Brainstorming & The Walt Disney creativity strategy)

Stage 5. Design:

  • Step 18. Prioritization
  • Step 19. User flows & Task flow
  • Step 20. Information architecture
  • Step 21. Wireframing

Stage 6. Test:

  • Step 22. UX testing methods

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