Six Steps Demystified

The six steps approach offers a framework for creative problem solving. Although each step is critical, it is important that participants don't forget that conducting RESEARCH on a topic sets up a strong foundation. Being knowledgeable about a topic allows for better understanding of the bigger picture and is a key part of identifying problems as well as generating solutions. Successful problem solvers always have conducted research on the topic.

There are two essential Pre-Steps before starting the six step process.

  • Research the topic

  • Read and analyze the future scene

Step 1

Challenges

Step 2

Underlying Problem

Step 3

Solutions

Step 4

Criteria

Step 5

Evaluate Solutions

Step 6

Action Plan

Pastel Swirl

Develop an Action Plan

The solution idea (which receives the highest total from STEP 5) is described in detail within the action plan. Develop your action plan by relating the idea back to the U.P. Demonstrate how your action plan will achieve what you set out to accomplish in STEP 2 (the KVP and Purpose).

Tips: 

  • 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 and will it continue? Where will the plan be implemented? Why will this idea positively impact the future scene? How will the action plan be carried out? How does it positively impact the U.P.? 

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

Sample Format: One approach might be to write five complete paragraphs in elaboration of your action plan.

  1.  An overview of the plans steps and stages of implementation (Who and What).

  2. Discuss the reasons or logic behind the solution being the best choice (Why and How the plan solves every aspect of the U.P.).

  3. Discuss potential roadblocks or challenges that will likely confront this action plan, along with ideas or actions for overcoming these obstacles.

  4. Highlight the strengths which Action Plan possess.

  5. Underscore the many positive impacts that the action plan will provide to the whole situation described in the future scene. Provide a justification (Why and How) for each positive impact and benefit derived from the implementation of the action plan.

Pastel Swirl

Produce Solution Ideas to the Underlying Problem

Solutions are detailed plans to solve all aspects of the team’s U.P.

 

Tips: 

  • 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.

  • Elements of the future should be incorporated within these action proposals by utilizing new or special technologies, methods, or procedures that would be effective.

  • Solution ideas are to be stated as definite proposals (e.g. "will").

  • Incorporate futuristic aspects in your writing of the solution idea.

  • Attempt to produce solutions for every relevant category of thought for the future scene as possible.

Generate and Select Criteria to Evaluate Solution Ideas

Brainstorm criteria that question the creative potential and importance of solution ideas. Create criteria which will measure the comparative quality (relevance and/or validity) of your STEP 3 solutions.

Tips: 

  • Only identify one concern/dimension with each criterion. Avoid the use of "and" in a criterion.

  • It is helpful to include  superlatives words (e.g. least, most, greatest, fewest, etc.).

  • You can create advanced criteria by considering various aspects of the future scene or your U.P. (KVP or Purpose) within a criterion.

  • Include the phrase, "which solution will" and phrase each in the form of a question.

Pastel Swirl

Identify Challenges Related to the Topic or Future Scene

Challenges note important concerns, problems, issues, or challenges that have a strong possibility of occurring within the future scene. 

  • Written in statement form.

  • Stated in terms of possibility (e.g. may, could, might).

  • Must have relation to the future scene by containing terms or phrases that describe the topic, place, and/or individuals detailed in the future scene.

Tips: 

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

  • Explain WHAT the challenge is, WHY it is a challenge, and HOW it relates to the future scene.

  • Phrase your challenges as cause and effect logic statements.

  • 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).

  • Incorporate ideas or concepts found during your research when writing the selected challenges from your group’s brainstorming whenever possible.

Select an Underlying Problem

The Underlying Problem (U.P.) is a statement of the most important challenge identified in STEP 1. The selected challenge, if solved, might solve many of the other challenges identified in the Future Scene. A challenge causing other concerns to occur in the scenario is much preferred as the U.P. rather than a challenge resulting from the future scene’s situation.

How To Structure A U.P.: A U.P. should be stated in one question containing the following five basic components.

  1. Condition Phrase: A beginning sentence 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 and due to (or because) could be a format used to write the condition phrase.

  2. Stem: Phrased as "How might we" or "In what ways might we"

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

  4. Purpose: The what you aim to accomplish by doing the Key Verb Phrase.

  5. Future Scene Parameters (FSP): The geographic location, time, and topic described within the future scene.

Tips: 

  • The U.P. should address only one issue (one action in the KVP and one goal in the Purpose).

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

Step 1

Challenges

Step 2

Underlying Problem

Step 3

Solutions

Step 4

Criteria

Step 5

Evaluate Solutions

Step 6

Action Plan

 
 
 
 
 
 

Evaluate Solution Ideas to Determine the Better Action Plan

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. Rank order your solution ideas from 8 (best) to 1 (least effective) relative to each criterion from STEP 4. Ensure that you use each number between 8 and 1 only once in each vertical column. Sum the ratings across the grid to total the ranks given to each solution. The solution with the highest total rank is the solution used to develop your action plan in STEP 6.

Super Tip

It is always helpful to familiarize yourself with the six steps by looking at the full blank booklet and understanding how evaluators review each step through the GIPS Team Scoresheet which can also be found under the Downloads page. 

The FPS Key Tips packet found under the Downloads page offers more in-depth explanation of each step. If you have any questions about the six steps never hesitate to reach out to our Evaluation Director, so we can offer more insight. Always remember to review the evaluators' scoresheet after each submission and read the feedback which can offer advice on how to further improve.

Explore Resources Available 

Step 1

Challenges

Step 2

Underlying Problem

Step 3

Solutions

Step 4

Criteria

Step 5

Evaluate Solutions

Step 6

Action Plan

NYFPS

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE TODAY

NYFPS

Start Your Journey To Solve Future Problems