What makes Future Problem Solving so worthwhile?
Watch a TED Talk on YouTube for a New Zealand student's perspective.
Improving Solution Scores
What about when and where (the two extra elaboration details that reporters are told to include)? FPSers don’t get credit for adding time and place to a solution because they have already identified those parameters in the underlying problem. As a matter of fact, the elements of where and when should not appear in the solution at all! They frequently damage the impact of the idea by making it appear less believable and persuasive. Time and place won’t add points to solutions and they muddy the clarity of the ideas. Leave them out.
So what is the best way to elaborate? Remember, the idea of elaboration is to strengthen the connection between the solution and your underlying problem. You are explaining more fully how the proposal solves your underlying problem. Probably the easiest method for earning an elaboration bonus is to begin with the “who” element. Identifying who will develop the solution is extremely important to the impact and effectiveness of the solution idea, so beginning with the agent of creation is logical and straightforward. Think of solutions like this: somebody is going to do something and here is why or how. Since the proposal itself (what) counts as one of three, and the executer of the plan (who) is another one of three, all you have to do to earn full elaboration credit is to explain how or why. You can, of course, include both how and why, but you may not have enough time to devote that much attention to each idea.
Writing solutions with this step-by-step procedure is a good way to discipline the team to maximize solution points. Later, as you progress as a problem solver, you may want to vary your writing style to avoid formulaic composition. Writing each solution in the same way can be boring and feel repetitious. Always include the person or agency responsible for creating or producing the solution, but place that detail in the middle or end of the description.
Many teams struggle with issue of who should solve underlying problems. You don’t want to list specific people from our current society (such as Bill Gates) because that removes the element of futurism from the solution and may harm the team’s ability to create an effective action plan. As an alternative, look at the position, qualities, or qualifications that current innovators possess. For example, “The C.E.O. of a major software corporation will support the development of a new phone app that. . .”
Also consider the person, group of people, or specific department within an organization that would have an impact on the solution idea you are suggesting. Simply stating that "the government" will do something is too broad and imprecise to earn credit.
Teams wishing to create new organizations or companies should specify the department within the company that would be responsible for implementing the solution. For example, “The Department of Research and Development at SAFE [Safe and Friendly Environments] will invent a new type of detergent for cleaning oil spills that . . .”
Don’t rely on one person or agency to implement more than two solutions. The same “who” used in multiple solutions will only count toward elaboration twice.
Finally, remember that only relevant solutions can be considered for elaboration points. Use creativity and knowledge of process components, but always keep the focus squarely on your underlying problem.
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