The 6 Step Method

 Understanding the Challenge

Pre    Research the Topic
Pre    Read and Analyze the Future Scene
I.        Identify Challenges
II.      Write an Underlying Problem

Generating Ideas

III.      Produce Solution Ideas

 Planning for Action

IV.     Generate and Select Criteria
V.      Apply Criteria to Solution Ideas (Grid)
VI.      Develop an Action Plan

Identify Challenges

Challenges are statements that identify important concerns, problems, issues, or challenges that have a strong possibility of occurring within the futuristic scenario (future scene).

Step One – Essentials

1.    Written in statement form.

2.    Stated in terms of possibility (may, could, might).

3.    Must be related to the future scene by containing terms or phrases that describe the topic, place, and/or individuals detailed in the future scene.

Step One – Suggestions

1.    Challenges may either cause the future scene or result from

the future scene.

2.    Explain WHAT the challenge is, WHY it is a challenge, and

HOW it relates to the future scene.

3.    Word your challenges as cause and effect logic statements.

4.    Attempt to find as many challenges as you can for every relevant category of thought for the future scene (about 12 categories should be your goal).

5.    Use terms and concepts found in the research when writing the selected challenges from your group’s brainstorming whenever possible.


Underlying Problem

The Underlying Problem (U.P.) is the statement of the most significant or important challenge identified in STEP ONE.  The selected challenge, or category of challenges, if solved, might solve many of the other challenges found in the Future Scene.  A challenge causing other concerns to occur in the scenario is much preferred for the U.P. rather than a challenge resulting from the future scene’s conditions.

Step Two – Structure

1. Condition Phrase: A beginning sentence or phrase that describes the most significant challenge selected from Step 1 that may be causing many other challenges in the future scene. The conditions should describe an effect and a cause arising from the future scene. The conditions are the impetus for the area of concern that the team has chosen for their solution finding. “Since…due to (or because) could be a format used to write the condition phrase.

2. Stem: “How might we…” or “In what ways might we…”

3. Key Verb Phrase (KVP): One main verb which is active, descriptive, and clear as it describes the action that must be done to solve the problem.

4. Purpose: The description of the goal or direction to be pursued by the Key Verb Phrase (what you hope to accomplish).

5.  Future Scene Parameters (FSP): The geographic location involved (place), time, and major focus of topic described within

the future scene.

Step Two – Essentials

1.  Select one very important challenge in your list of sixteen challenges written in Step 1, address an area (or category) of concerns, or a compilation (or synthesis) of concerns that may cross many different categories or occur within one category of thought.

2.  A U.P. should be stated in one question containing the five basic components (Condition Phrase, Stem, Key Verb Phrase, Purpose, and Future Scene Parameters).

3.  The Underlying Problem should address only one issue (one action in the KVP and one goal in the Purpose).

4.  The Condition Phrase should result from a significant challenge causing or resulting from the future scene and contained in Step One of the booklet. This should contain an effect and a cause. “Since” may preceed the effect, while the “cause” could follow the phrase, “due to” or “because.”

5.  The Purpose is connected to the Key Verb Phrase by using …so that…, …in order to…, or other similar connecting phrases.

Step Two – Suggestions

1.  Be brief – convey the concept in a minimum number of words. Read it aloud. Does the U.P. make sense to your group?

2.  Narrow the U.P. to have a focus, but broad enough to allow you to use the research your team has done.

3.  Avoid using absolute verbs such as eliminate, prevent, assure, ensure, or guarantee. Qualified verbs such as reduce, diminish, increase, enhance, or improve are more practical.

4.  In order to create a more focused U.P., use the Key Verb Phrase as the Purpose and then create an action that would meet that goal.

5.  A positive verb or action for the KVP may create a more effective

6.  Try to select words for the U.P. that are rich and descriptive (especially the verb of the KVP), but use vocabulary words that are understandable for the team since solutions will be brainstormed and written based on the words chosen for your U.P.

7.  Your Purpose should clearly result from achieving the action stated in the Key Verb Phrase.

8.  The action stated in your KVP should be clear and the goal or outcome described in your Purpose should be measurable.

Produce Solution Ideas

Solutions are detailed, elaborate plans to solve all aspects of the team’s Underlying Problem.   Elements of the future must be incorporated within these action proposals by utilizing new or special technologies, methods, or procedures that would be effective.

Step Three – Essentials

1.  Solution ideas must be relevant to the Condition Phrase, the Key Verb Phrase, and the Purpose of the Underlying Problem (U.P).

2.  Elaborate by indicating WHO will implement the solution idea, WHAT will be done, HOW the solution idea will work, and WHY the solution idea will solve the KVP and Purpose of the U.P.  WHEN and WHERE are not considered to be critical for elaboration of each solution idea.

3.  The solution idea must be written in complete sentences.

Step Three – Suggestions

1.  Solution ideas are to be stated as definite proposals – use will or would).

2.  Avoid formula writing by explaining how or why your idea is a solution rather than just repeating your KVP or purpose from the UP.

3.  A WHO for elaboration could be either an organized group of people or a job title likely to put the solutions into action.  The writer may create these groups or job titles, since this solution idea will be taking place in the future.

4.  Attempt to bring new approaches to existing ideas (a new twist).

5.  Be futuristic in your writing of the solution idea.


Generate  and  Select Criteria

Generate ideas/criteria that serve as yardsticks to determine the creative potential and importance of solution ideas. Generate and select criteria, which will measure the comparative quality (relevance and/or validity) of solution ideas.

Step Four – Essentials

1.   Addresses only one concern/dimension with each criterion. Avoid the use of “and” in a criterion.

2.   In writing your criteria, use superlatives, “st” words (e.g. least, most, greatest, fewest, etc.)

3.   Phrase your criteria to indicate a desired direction.

4.  Develop advanced criteria by considering various aspects of the future scene or your Underlying Problem (KVP or Purpose) in writing each criterion.

Step Four – Suggestions

1.   Make sure each criterion is written correctly, include the words, “which solution will…” and phrase each in the form of a question.

2.   Include specific (applicable and relevant) criteria among the five you develop. These advanced criteria are unique to the future scene and the core idea of each specific criterion can not be easily applied to a variety of other future scenes.

3.   A UP-Based criterion measures how well your solution idea does what the UP mandates. These advanced criteria may be related directly to the KVP or the Purpose of the UP while containing the future scene’s parameters (population or group, place, or other important aspects of the topic as described in the future scene).

4.  Create an advanced criterion from a generic idea (longest lasting, most accepted, quickest to implement, cost the least, etc.) by including parameters from the future scene (place, topic, and population or group) in the wording of each criterion and providing a justification. A justified criterion will begin with the word, “Since…,” which will describe some aspect that comes directly from the future scene that has some logical connection to the criterion. Important  focusing  tool.    Use  the  grid  to  apply  five criteria  to the eight most promising  solution  ideas in order to determine the best solution for your action plan.

Step Five – Essentials

1.  Select your 8 most promising solution ideas and list them in the 8 solution idea blanks of the grid. If you have fewer than 8, list them all.

2.  Rank order your solution ideas from 8 (best) to 1 (least effective). Make sure that you use each number between 8 and 1 once, and only once, in each vertical column. If solution ideas tie, add the next two ranks and divide by 2.  Both solution ideas that tied will then receive the quotient as their rank number.

3.  Do this (vertically) for each criterion. Add across the grid to total the ranks given to each solution idea. Double check the addition for the totals in the grid to make sure mathematical errors are avoided. The solution idea with the highest total rank is the solution idea used to develop your action plan in Step 6.

Step Five – Suggestions

1.  Enter a few key words describing each selected solution idea in the small space provided in the grid. Also, include the number of the solution from Step 3 to give the evaluator easy reference to the complete wording of that solution idea.

2.  In ranking each solution idea against a criterion, the team may find it easier to determine the best solution idea and then least effective solution idea, alternating back and forth (rather than trying to identify the best, next best, etc. If you have fewer than 8 solution ideas, rank the solution ideas based on the number you actually have placed on the grid.

3.  One criterion deemed to be more important than the others may be weighted or have its value increased.  Weighting a criterion means that it will carry more weight in determining your action plan.  All of the ranks under that criterion (vertically) are then multiplied by two.

4.  If two or more solution ideas are tied for the highest score after completing the grid, break the tie.  Methods for breaking the tie include:  Introducing a sixth criterion, go back and weight one or more criteria, or eliminate all other solution ideas and have a head-to- head playoff between the tied solution ideas (using the original five criteria). It may be useful (but not necessary) to write a note to the evaluator explaining how you broke the tie and possibly the reasoning or logic that was used in your breaking of the tie.


Develop an Action Plan

Will solve your underlying problem and positively impact the future scene.

Step Six – Essentials

1.  The solution idea (which receives the highest total from the grid) is described in the action plan.  If your highest scoring solution does not “seem” like the best idea, it might be due to one of the following reasons:

Your criteria are not adequate,

•Your rank-ordering of the solution ideas on the grid needs work, or

•You are mistaking your favorite solution idea with your best solution idea

Step Six – Suggestions

1.  Develop your action plan by relating the idea back to the Underlying Problem.  Demonstrate how your action plan will achieve what you set out to accomplish in Step 2 (KVP and the Purpose).

2.  Explain in detail the who, what, how why, where, and when of your action plan:

Who will carry out the plan or be involved?
What will be done to solve the problem when will the results begin?  Will it continue?
Where will the plan be implemented?
Why will this idea positively impact society?
How will the action plan be carried out?
How does it positively impact the UP?
How does it positively impact the future scene?
How does it positively impact the topic?

3.  New facts to your action plan may be added, as long as each addition represents a subpart of your action plan.

4.  Develop five complete paragraphs in elaboration of your action plan.

•    First – An overview of the plans steps and stages of implementation (Who? and What?);

•    Second – Elaborately describes the reasons or logic behind the solution being the best choice (Why? and How? the plan solves every aspect of the Underlying Problem);

•    Third – Details the potential roadblocks or challenges that will likely confront this action plan, along with ideas or actions for overcoming these obstacles;

•    Fourth – Depicts elaborately the many strengths the Action Plan possesses, some of which could be based upon the group’s criteria from Step 4; and

•    Fifth – The last paragraph reports the many positive impacts that the action plan will provide to the whole situation described in the future s cene and the many benefits to the lives of various populations within the future scene. Provide a justification (Why? and How?) for each positive impact and benefit derived from the implementation of the action plan that is mentioned within this paragraph.

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