Getting Unstuck A Creative Problem Solving Tool
This is a short and powerful tool that takes no more than a half hour. It is effective in getting "unstuck" from a problem in life or work. Solution Circles are tools of "community capacity". It assumes and demonstrates that nearby people - in any community or work place have the capacity to help - if asked. It requires a person to ASK - not an easy thing in our culture of privacy and "do it alone". This tool puts all the values we espouse into practice and demonstrates that TOGETHER WE'RE BETTER.
Time required: No more than thirty
minutes. People per Solution Circle: Best with 5-9.
Roles to be played:
- Problem Presenter (focus person)
- Process Facilitator (team manager,
- Note Taker or Graphic Recorder
- amazingly creative Brainstorm Team
For large groups, the group facilitator
(i.e. you) asks the group for volunteer problem presenters. (The
number required is the total group divided by 9 approximately).
Then ask for a process facilitator and a graphic recorder to
attach themselves to each problem presenters so each core team
is now a group of 3. The balance of the large group ( i.e. the
world's most creative community members) now join the various
problem solving teams so each team totals approximately 8-9 problem
solvers. Diversity in teams is best: spread the age range; have
male/female diversity; the greater the diversity per team the
Explain the steps to the teams in detail:
(6 minutes) The problem presenter will have 6 uninterrupted
minutes to outline the problem. The job of the process
facilitator is to keep time and make sure no one interrupts.
The recorder takes notes. Everyone else (the brainstormers) listens.
If the problem presenter stops talking before the six minutes
elapse, everyone else stays silent until the 6 minutes pass.
This is key! The problem presenter gets 6 uninterrupted minutes.
(6 minutes) This is a brainstorm. Everyone chimes in with
ideas about creative solutions to what they just heard. It is
not a time to clarify the problem or to ask questions. It is
not a time to give speeches, lectures or advice. The process
facilitator must make sure this is a brainstorm. Everyone gets
a chance to give their brilliant ideas. No one must be allowed
to dominate. The problem presenter listens - without interrupting.
He/she must not talk or respond. We often give the person masking
tape to facilitate their listening. It's hard to just listen!
Step 3 :
(6 minutes) Now the group can have a dialogue led by the
problem presenter. This is time to explore and clarify the problem.
Focus on the positive points only and not what can't be done.
(6 minutes) The First Step. The focus person and the group
decide on first steps that are doable within the next 3 days.
At least ONE step should be initiated within 24 hours. This is
critical. Research shows that unless a first step is taken almost
immediately, people do not get out of their ruts. A coach from
the group volunteers to phone or see the person within 3 days
and check if they took their first step.
Finally the group just does a round of
words to describe the experience and the recorder gives the record
to the focus person. If in a large group, the teams returns to
the main group, debrief and continue.
In our experiences people love this exercise
and find that it generates action. It does not guarantee a solution,
but it usually gets people "unstuck" and at least points
to the next logical step. Try it out and let us know how it works
This material may be duplicated
however not for any profit-driven enterprise.
Designed by Marsha Forest & Jack Pearpoint
If copied please notify
us on your intentions
Copyright 1996 Inclusion Press