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CPS Step 5 - Formulate Solutions

Formulate Solutions is the fifth step of the Creative Problem Solving process. Its purpose is to move from ideas to solutions, evaluate, strengthen, and select solutions for best “fit.”

In this workshop, the team will go through:

  • A divergent phase to generate a list of options to strengthen the idea(s). To do so, the team will use the POINt technique.
  • A convergent phase to formulate the final solution that the team will take over to CPS - 6. Formulate the Plan. To do so the team will use the NUF 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.

1. Analyze the initial idea with POI

Have a look at the initial idea, what are the:

  • Pluses? What is good about this idea?
  • Opportunities? What might this idea lead to if it becomes a reality?
  • Issues? What are the shortcomings, limitations, or weaknesses of the idea?

For a better discussion, don't forget to follow these rules:

  • Always start by the Pluses
  • Formulate opportunities starting by It might...(IM)
  • Formulate issues starting by How might we... (HMW) or by How to... (H2)

Notes to the facilitator:

Before starting you should create a card/s with the initial idea (or set of ideas) that you want to transform into one final solution.

2. Highlight 9 important items

Each one of us has 9 points to highlight the most important Pluses, Opportunities or Issues.

  • You can spend only one point per card
  • It is OK not to spend all your points.

Don't forget to follow the rules of convergent thinking:

  • Be Deliberate: Allow decision-making the time and respect it requires. Avoid snap decisions or harsh judgments. Give every option a fair chance.
  • Be Affirmative: Even in convergence, it’s important to first consider what’s good about each contribution and judge based on its potential for improvement, rather than eliminating contributions based on the flaws.
  • Consider Novelty: Do not dismiss novel or original contributions. Consider that there will be ways to tailor, rework, or tame wild contributions.

3. Identify New Thinking

Based on the previous steps, can we go further and identify New Thinking?

New thinking consists of ideas to overcome the issues, take advantage of the opportunities and to strengthen the solution.

4. Formulate & document the solution

Now it is time to build upon the previous steps to formulate & document our final solution.

How to do that:

  • Create one card for the solution, carefully choose a title
  • Craft a short (5 sentences max) description. You must express the solution clearly and concisely
  • A picture is worth a thousand words: attach illustrations
  • Document the solution with data: attach any relevant document

Once done, check with the 5 Whys technique that the solution will answer our success criteria.

If necessary, improve the solution.

5. Evaluate the solution

Individually, take the time to evaluate the solution along three criteria:

  • New: is it new? Is it innovative?
  • Useful: does it solve an important problem or fulfil a real need?
  • Feasible: is it feasible? Do we have the opportunity, the skills, money or time to do it?

You can rate from [0] to [10], for example for the New criteria:

  • [0] Already done, the idea has been in existance for a long time...
  • [2] Not really new, some similar ideas do exist but this is a bit of a new take on it
  • [6] Quite new and might offer new possibilities
  • [10] Very innovative, never seen before...

You can also comment on the solution to capture your opinion.

6. Discuss and reflect on our solution

Let's step back and have a look at the final solution!

Review the evaluation result and optimize the solution if necessary and possible.

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

Are we confident enough that this solution might solve our problem?

  • If yes, move onto the next step
  • If no, it is OK to go start this session again or to develop another set of ideas or even to go back to one of the previous steps of the CPS process
  • You might also consider building and testing a prototype of this solution.

7. Congratulations!

Congratulations, we have finished the fith step of the CPS process!
Let's celebrate that with a little victory dance and once done, we will be able to launch the last step of the CPS process: Formulate the Plan.

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