Creative Problem Solving Facilitation Guide

3D Problem Solving

3D Problem Solving (Photo credit:

There are 6 stages to the creative problem solving (CPS) process, and within each, different tacks to take to guide new ideas, new decisions and new actions.  Below is a basic list for people who have participated in my CPS training – they know how to facilitate the process and can use a simple memory jog.

Reminder:  You are not looking for the right answers (that’s so 1950’s).  Instead you are seeking new opportunities for moving forward, to Prototype the Possible. See earlier blog post ‘Which Creative Problem Solving Model do you Use?‘ for reference.


1 Clarify the Situation


What might be the best use of the session?  What would you like to focus on?  What pet peeves / concerns / opportunities / challenges are important to focus on right now?


Diverge:  Tell what it’s all about, draw a sketch/map of the situation

Converge: What’s your overall objective?  If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do?


Wouldn’t it be great if…

Wouldn’t it be awful if…

Challenge – Opportunity


Rough statement of the situation – dream, want, wish, goal, etc.

2 Gather Information


What are all the data /information / impressions /trends / inconsistencies that need to be considered?

What do you stand to gain from solving this?  What happens if nothing gets done?  Who else stands to gain?  Who stands to lose by this situation being solved?  When’s the best time for this to get settled / started?  What’s an ideal outcome?  What are ideas for making that happen?


Diverge: Who, what, where, when, how, why?

Converge: Know, need to know; Group and categorize, Sticky dot priorities


5W’s and 1 H

What really matters to you?


Short list of critical factors for moving forward

3 Define the Opportunity


What are different ways to define the problem / opportunity / challenge?


Diverge: Use  IWWMI, H2, HMI and or WMBAT as statement starters. What’s stopping you from achieving x? Verb dance.

Converge: Highlight, Restate


In what ways might I…?

How to…?

How might I…?

What might be all the ways…?


A coincise statement of who, do, what (subject, verb, object) from which to generate ideas

4 Generate Ideas


What are all the ideas you can imagine to answer this question?


Diverge: Brainstorm, Brainwrite, Visualize, Force Relationships, Attribute List, SCAMPER, Morphological Analysis

Converge: Combine, Paraphrase, Promise


Suspend judgement

What else?

Rules for brainstorming

What ideas look most promising?



A short list of promising ideas

5 Create Solutions


Which solution is worthy of prototyping?  How might it be further strengthened or refined?


Diverge: Brainstorm criteria, Identify musts and wants – things that will help you sort ideas and gain support; strengthen weaker aspects

Converge: Evaluate pluses and potentials, concerns and advantages, limitations; Paired comparison, Decision matrix; Itemized response


What might be the effect on -Cost, acceptability, resources, time, space?

Set criteria, evaluate, reshape

What I see myself doing is…

Angel’s Advocate, AFOS (affirm, future, objections, strengthen)

How to…


A prioritized list of potential solutions

6 Move into Action


1) What solution shall be selected, and, 2) what steps might be taken to implement it?


Diverge: 1) Brainstorm roadblocks, Prototype, Pre-test, Anticipate key people’s reactions, Consequence key.

2) Visualize the result, Brainstorm implementation steps.

Converge: 1) What do you need to put in place to achieve this?  How to make everyone happy?

2) Sequence implementation strategy, Assign accountabilities and timing.





Critical Path


Who will do what by when? Accountable how?


1) Support for the solution

2) A plan for implementation



I’m happy to facilitate a refresher CPS tutorial/session for you, give me a call at 416-638-5757 so we can set it up.

Marci Segal, MS

Freeing Leaders’ thinking so they can create new futures.
















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