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The Problem Solving Process


All of the problem solving work in FPS is based on the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) process,

developed by Sidney Parnes and Alex Osborn.  This is a powerful process that can be applied to

many complex situations in educational, business, community, and personal settings.



1  Identify Challenges 

  • Generate issues, concerns, and problems, applying background knowledge to the Future Scene.

  • Consider major issues and categories of problems in order to think of more challenges.


2  Select an Underlying Problem

  • Consider the major issues in the challenges identified.

  • Select an issue, one that will have a major impact on the Future Scene, for the focus of the underlying problem.

  • Be forward-looking and proactive, not regressive and reactive, in developing the underlying problem.

  • Write the underlying problem in correct format.

  • Indicate a desired action to be taken, a purpose for the desired action, and parameters tying the problem to the Future Scene.


3  Produce Solution Ideas 

  • Generate multiple solutions to the underlying problem.

  • Consider major issues and categories of problems in order to think of more solutions.

  • Think futuristically and consider the use of technological advances.


4  Select Criteria 

  • Generate possible criteria that could be used to evaluate the solutions.

  • Consider the underlying problem and the Future Scene in developing criteria.

  • Select five important criteria.


5  Apply Criteria

  • Select the most promising solutions to include on a grid.

  • Rank the solutions based on each of the criteria separately.

  • Identify the best solution as the one with the highest number of total points.


6 Develop an Action Plan

  • Plan how the best solution can be implemented.

  • Describe the actions and steps of the plan.

  • Make clear how the plan will solve the underlying problem and impact the Future Scene.


The cliche is that FPS taught me "how to think, not what to think," but I think that's true.  I learned how to navigate my way around online article databases as I researched topics.  I learned about conflict and compromise and negotiating the dynamics of group of very strong-willed, often stubborn teammates under intense pressure.  All of these are skills I've drawn on in college and in my life since.

Reuben Henriques

Massachusetts Department of Education

I'FPS meets 21st Century Learning Skills.  Click the icon to download more information.

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