CPS Step 4 - Explore Ideas


Explore Ideas is the fourth step of the Creative Problem Solving process. Its purpose is to generate ideas that answer the challenge questions.

This activity is made of 2 phases:

A) A divergent phase to generate as many ideas as possible. To do so, the team will use 3 different techniques: brainstorming, Super-Powers and Forced Connections.

B) A convergent phase to select the one idea that will be taken over to CPS - 5. Develop Solutions. To do so the team will use a simplified version of the COCD Idea Box.


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.






1. Generate ideas with brainstorming (Round 1)

Write down all your ideas!

In this step, write down all the ideas that might help address the challenge.

Don't forget to follow these rules:

  • Go for quantity: write down as many ideas as possible (one idea per card)
  • Defer judgment: don't judge the relevance of your own ideas at this point
  • Encourage wild ideas: be playful and write down wild and usual ideas
  • Combine and Build: Use one idea as a springboard for another

Note to the facilitator:

  • Before the workshop, you should write down the challenge statement in the title of this workshop

2. Generate ideas with super-powers (Round 2)

Imagine that you have one of these super-powers! What new ideas can you come up with?

Again, don't forget to follow these rules:

  • Go for quantity: write down as many ideas as possible (one idea per card)
  • Defer judgment: don't judge the relevance of your own ideas at this point
  • Encourage wild ideas: be playful and write down wild and usual ideas
  • Combine and Build: Use one idea as a springboard for another

3. Generate ideas with forced connections (Round 3)

Imagine that the solution is in this picture! What new ideas can you think of to answer the challenge question?

Observe the picture in as much detail as possible:

  • Notice the story,
  • The background,
  • What's surprising,
  • What's in focus,
  • What's out of focus,
  • etc.

Again, don't forget to follow these rules:

  • Go for quantity: write down as many ideas as possible (one idea per card)
  • Defer judgment: don't judge the relevance of your own ideas at this point
  • Encourage wild ideas: be playful and write down wild and usual ideas
  • Combine and Build: Use one idea as a springboard for another

4. Select Now ideas

NOW ideas are:

  • easy to implement
  • few risks
  • high acceptability
  • past examples available

Please select your 10 NOW ideas by giving one point to each of them.
As you have a total of 30 points, you should end this step with a budget of 20 points.

You can also comment on the ideas.

5. Select How ideas

HOW ideas are:

  • innovative ideas
  • breakthrough
  • exciting ideas
  • might require some experimentation and testing before being implemented

Please select your 10 HOW ideas by giving one point to each of them.
If you started this step with 20 points, you should end this step with a budget of 10 points.

You can also comment on the ideas.

6. Select Wow ideas

WOW ideas are:

  • ideas for the future
  • dreams, challenges
  • can be the red ideas of tomorrow

Please select your 10 WOW ideas by giving one point to each of them.
If you started this step with 10 points, you should end this step with a budget of 0 points.

You can also comment on the ideas.

7. Augment selected ideas

Look at the ideas with most points: how can we "augment" or "Enrich" them?

How can you:

  • Twist it to something more crazy?
  • Extend it and stretch it to new horizons?
  • Flip it or reverse it to do something else?
  • Focus it on one specific detail?
  • Combine it with something else?

Note: don't think about feasibility at this point, crazy suggestions are still welcome...

Click on a card and add your contributions inside the card.

8. Discuss and reflect on the ideas

Let's step back and have a look at the selected ideas!

Review the results:

  • Do we agree on the selected ideas?
  • Do we think there is enough creative potential in this ideas to answer the challenge question?
  • Do we need to clarify or reformulate one of theses ideas?

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

Are we confident enough to agree on the ideas we would like to develop into full blown solutions?

  • If yes, move onto the next step
  • If no, it is OK to go start this session again and generate new ideas or even to go back to one of the previous steps of the CPS process

9. Congratulations

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

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


Once done, we can plan a session for the fifth step of the CPS process: Formulate Solutions.


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