CPS Step 3 - Formulate Challenges


Formulate Challenges is the third step of the Clarify stage in the Creative Problem Solving process. Its purpose is to sharpen awareness of the challenge and create challenge questions that invite solutions.

In this workshop, the team will go through:

A) A divergent phase to generate as many challenge statements as possible. To do so, they will use the Word Dance technique.

B) A convergent phase to select the one challenge that will be taken over to CPS - 4. Explore Ideas. To do so they will use the 3 "I"s technique.


About the CPS process.

There are many models of the Creative Problem Solving process. Though, as recommended by the Creative Education Foundation, Stormz has chosen to focus on an evolution of the Osborn-Parnes CPS called the CPS Learner’s Model.

The basic structure is comprised of four stages with a total of six explicit process steps. Each of these process steps is available in Stormz as a template.






1. Formulate challenge statements

Let's formulate the challenge statement!

Each one of us should generate one single challenge statement and formulate it with one of the following invitational language stems:

  • “How to ...” (H2),
  • “How might I ...” (HMI),
  • “In what ways might we ...” (IWWMW).

Once done, share your statement with the others. Don't criticize yet, just try to clarify the meaning of each statement.


*Note: if you have done CPS step 1 - Explore the vision, you should take your wish as a reference to create your initial challenge statement.

2. Generate alternate challenge statements

Let's do a Word Dance!

First, take a look at your initial challenge statement and generate 2 lists of 5 alternate words or sentences:

  • On the left side of the green zone, create a list of alternate verbs or actions. Please write one verb or action per card.
  • On the right side of the green zone, create a list of alternate objects or outcomes. Please write one object or outcome per card.

Example: If your challenge is "How might we reinvent the hamburger?", you will have to find alternate words or sentences for both *"Reinvent" and "Hamburger"

Then, use these lists as inspiration to generate at least 5 alternate challenge statements. Formulate each one of them with one of the following invitational language stems:

  • “How to ...” (H2),
  • “How might I ...” (HMI),
  • “In what ways might we ...” (IWWMW).

Once done, move onto the next step.

3. Evaluate the challenge statements

Let's evaluate all our challenge statements around 3 criteria!

  1. Do we have Influence over the challenge? If the challenge is something completely out of your control or authority, we may not want to spin our wheels on it.
  2. Is the challenge of Importance to us? Are we motivated to address it, and will we have the energy to carry out the solution?
  3. Does the challenge require Imagination? Will it call for new thinking or an innovative solution?

4. Discuss and reflect on the outcome

Let's step back and have a look at the different challenges!

Review the results:

  • Do we agree on each evaluation? If not, let's discuss.
  • Which ones have a high score on all three criteria (Influence, Importance, Imagination)? These will probably benefit from using the CPS process.
  • Which ones have one weak criteria? On these ones, we might want to think about redefining our challenge in a way that does meet the 3 “I”s criteria,

Once done, take a little time to reflect on what we should do next.

Are we confident enough to agree and formulate our final challenge statement?

  • If yes, write-it down in the Final challenge statement group
  • If no, it is OK to go start this session again and generate new challenges or even to go back to the first step Explore the Vision and leverage our latest discussions to do some more Word Dancing with our challenges.

5. Congratulations

Congratulations, we have finished the third step of the CPS process!

Let's celebrate that by adding a third serie of steps to our little victory dance ;-)


Once done, we can plan a session for the fourth step of the CPS process: Explore Ideas.


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