Tools of the Trade: Part 2


You can read part 1 of this blog series here.

Once you’ve generated your ideas, the next step is to evaluate them and select an idea/s to take forward for further development.

1. Put ideas and solutions to the test

Force field analysis. Draw a line down the middle of the page and put the idea to be considered above the top of the line. Write ‘for’ and ‘against’, either side of the line. Seek forces for and against the idea, writing these on the appropriate side of the line. Show the significance of these forces with an arrow, where the length indicates the size of the force.

Study the diagram, considering the forces identified. What is the overall force, for and against? How can you tip the balance? How can you neutralise forces against? How can you increase the ‘for’ forces?

Voting. Ideally you don’t want to end up with lots of ideas with one or two votes each – you want one idea having many more votes. There are various voting techniques you can use that will help you achieve that, for example:

  • A fixed number of votes per person, typically one to five, depending on the number of ideas.
  • Weighted votes, for example one vote of value three, one of value two and one of value one.
  • The ability to put all votes on one idea or a rule that one person can only put one vote on one idea.

2. Implement new ways of working

Perhaps the hardest stage of creative problem solving is getting other people to buy into your idea.

Head, heart, hands. The head is about being logical. Think about how you can persuade people through logical argument. How do they think? Are they logical people for whom a rational argument will be effective? What are their goals, and how will the idea affect them?

Ask yourself about the logic of your idea. How logical are you? Can you come over as a rational and intelligent person who has thought the idea through carefully and logically?

Seek to create a logical project plan that shows what must be done, by whom and by when.

The heart is about emotions and feelings. Think about how you can use emotion to get your idea across. How emotional are the people you need to persuade? How open or closed are their emotions? What makes them passionate? What excites them?

What are the emotional aspects of your idea? How emotional are you? Do you get excited when you talk about your idea? What emotional investment are you prepared to put into your idea?

Seek to create passionate messages that show your commitment and excitement about the idea.

The hands are about practicality, action, physical effect. Think about how you can use action to get your idea across. How practical are your audience? How action-oriented? Are they stimulated more by actual demonstrations? Do they like to handle things themselves?

Can you create a demonstration of the idea? Can you make a mock-up? How can you show your idea in action? How practical are you? Have you stopped at the idea or have you developed it further?

Seek to create demonstrable evidence of how good your idea is.

Consider the sequence of head, heart and hands. Should you get them doing something first and hope they realise how good the idea is once they try it out? Should you get them excited first? Should you start with a logical argument that starts from their problems and works back to how your idea will solve them?

Storyboard. Consider what you’re trying to explain. Explore the dynamics of the situation. Talk to people. Draw out their stories. Overlay your idea onto the lives you are plotting, to see where they go. Consider how your idea shapes and guides the story, dramatically or subtly changing what would otherwise be.

Find a coherent storyline, with actors and a complete plot. Good stories build tension and include unexpected surprises. They evoke emotions. They show struggle and learning. And they end by resolving the tensions and leaving the reader satisfied.

Draw an illustrative sequence of pictures or diagrams. Think about the visual pictures you can create to make your story leap off the page. What are the key turning points in the story? What are the main things that happen? What are the main messages? It doesn’t need to be a sophisticated artwork. Stick figures work very well in storyboards.

Give me more!

If that’s not enough for you, you can find more creativity tools at:

Thanks for listening!

Lesley Thomson is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply