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### Future Problem Solving Programme (FPSP)Six Steps in Problem SolvingSec One IS – 1 Mar 2013

Preview of the 6-step FPSP process

Step 1: Identify Potential Challenges / Problems

Step 2: Identify Underlying Problem (UP)

Step 3: Identify Potential Solutions for UP

Step 4: Design Criteria to Evaluate Potential Solutions in Step 3

Step 5: Apply criteria to Potential Solutions in Step 3

Step 6: Develop Action Plan based on Best Solution Identified

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

The FPSP process starts off by having a FUTURE SCENE to analyse.

Here, you’ll identify 16 potential challenges.

The best way to do so would be to scrutinize the future scene in detail, brainstorm (have an open mind!), infer, and draw links based on research.

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

You may ask, why 16?

In FPSP, having 16 potential challenges is a rule, but of course you are not bound by this rule if you’re not taking part in an FPSP competition.

The key principle, though, is to DIVERGE, BEFORE YOU CONVERGE.

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

“DIVERGE, BEFORE YOU CONVERGE.”

The reason is indisputable: DIVERGENT thinking helps you to be creative and to have multiple ideas before CONVERGING on the best idea.

So, +/- 16 is a good number to work on!

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

Step One is applicable to everyday problems that you face in life or in PROJECTS.

E.g. in the Inventions Category, the product that you invent has to address a challenge / problem that perhaps society is facing.

E.g. in the Resource Development Category, the resource that you develop has to address a shortcoming (in this case, a gap for you to exploit).

Before deciding what product to invent or what resource to develop, you have to brainstorm many potential challenges to address and finally decide to work on.

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

Identification of Potential Challenges has 3 parts:

Part 1: A FACT or inference that can be made from the scenario/future scene.

Part 2: WHYthis fact or inference could pose a problem within the scenario.

Part 3: RESEARCHto support why you believe this could be a problem. Your research may be based on formal academic papers / journals, opinions from authoritative / credible sources (e.g. universities, government organisations, international non-profit organisations, replutable newspapers).

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

e.g. (this is a well-worded potential challenge – assume there is already a future scene)

The future scene states that students these days face increasing levels of stress from home (FACT, from hypothetical future scene). This could be problematic in 2030 because if this trend persists, students may face such an insurmountable level of stress that many may turn to suicide (WHY). According to Dr Daniel Fung, Deputy Chief of IMH’s department of child and adolescent psychiatry, teenager suicide is usually caused by “relationship problems, especially with their parents” (RESEARCH).

Step One – Identify Potential Challenges

e.g. you can apply this in projects, such as Inventions Category:

There have been a number of documented cases in the media of elderly people, who stay alone, dying alone without the knowledge of their family (FACT). This could be especially problematic in the future because Singapore’s population is aging, possibly leading to more such cases of elderly dying in a desolate manner (WHY). According to The Straits Times, in the past five months this year, the police have put up 35 appeals for the next-of-kins of elderly who die alone in their own homes, homes for the elderly, and in hospital (RESEARCH). Hence, our team is looking at an invention that can alleviate this problem.

Step Two – Identify Underlying Problem

After uncovering 16 potential challenges, it’s time to decide which is the MOST SIGNIFICANT problem (not necessarily the easiest problem!) that you wish to address.

Doing so requires you to pause and EVALUATE the 16 you and your team have found.

Step Two – Identify Underlying Problem

Determine which Step One Challenge BEST FITS your intent AND if solved, would MOST POSITIVELY IMPACT society as a whole/ create the most change.

Step Two – Identify Underlying Problem

It would be very much more realistic if your underlying problem deals with something you and your team can address.

Hence, you should aim to INCREASE, DECREASE, MINIMIZE, MAXIMIZE, REDUCE, IMPROVE a situation of your choice, as opposed to PREVENT, ELIMINATE, SOLVE, which are harder to do.

Step Three – Identify Potential Solutions to your Underlying Problem

Step Three is all about coming up with solutions to your underlying problem. Your solutions should be CREATIVE and ORIGINAL! Each solution should be DIFFERENT. No solving problems with MAGIC!

Step Three – Identify Potential Solutions to your Underlying Problem

3 Steps to Step 3:

1. Who – who are the parties involved?

2. What – what are they going to do?

3. How – how are they going to do this?

Step Three – Identify Potential Solutions to your Underlying Problem

E.g. (assume there’s already a future scene)

Hermes Transportation (WHO) will allow Perseus (WHO) to use their new prototype of the Hermes HyperwarpHeels, also known as H3. H3 is a pair of sandals that can reach hyperwarpspeeds (WHAT). The sandals are ignited with the wearer clicking their heels together. Mini-fission reactors in the heel of the sandal generate a large output of energy. The energy comes out of the heels propelling the wearer up and forward. The wearer controls their direction by flexing their toes and twisting their ankles. To stop, the wearer taps their right big toe twice and the fission reaction begins a gradual slow down. The sandals are still in testing, but have been considered safe so far. These sandals can help Perseus travel on his quest faster, especially since with Pegasus sick, she can not fly him around (HOW).

Step Four – Design Criteria to Judge Potential Solutions

Formula:

Which solution will be the (SUPERLATIVE ADJECTIVE) for (WHO) so that (WHY)?

e.g.

Which solution will be the fastest to implement (superlative adjective) for Perseus (WHO) so that he can get back to Pegasus before her sickness worsens (WHY)?

Design 5 criteria.

Step Four – Design Criteria to Judge Potential Solutions

Some criteria examples:

- Most easily adapted
- Most humane
- Easiest to implement
- Least expensive
- Least intrusive
- Safest
- be the easiest for _____________ to understand?
- be the greatest improvement over (what is presently being done)?
- have the most lasting effects for ____________?
- require the least number of personnel to implement?
- be most beneficial to ____________ who are seeking further knowledge?
- be the easiest to maintain as __________ problems increase?
- be the most imaginative way to correct ________________ problem?
- cause the least amount of disruption for (the people of the future scene)?
- be most convenient for (the people of the future scene)?
- be easiest to explain to (the people of the future scene)?
- is the most ethically/morally/legally sound for (the people of the future scene)?
- have the most appeal to (the people of the future scene)?

Step Five – Apply criteria to your top 8 potential solutions

Out of your 16 potential solutions, you probably have a few that your group deems weak, and a number that your group favours too. Take these (8) preferred ones and rank them based on the criteria you’ve designed.

Step Five – Apply criteria to your top 8 potential solutions

You will need to RANK ORDER the solutions for each criterion. For example, the solution that is the BEST according to criterion #1 will receive 8 points. The worst will receive 1 point. You MAY NOT REPEAT numbers.

Repeat this process for EACH criteria. Fill in the grid as you go. Feel free to divide and conquer on this step. Each of you take one criterion and evaluate the ten solutions independently on scratch paper, then transfer your numbers over to the grid.

Add the numbers going ACROSS!! The solution with the HIGHEST number of points is your BEST SOLUTION! You will use this solution to create your Step Six Action Plan.

Step Six – Design Action Plan

- In this Step, you must write a proposal for your BEST solution. This is the persuasive writing piece of the puzzle. Your goal is to adequately explain your idea and convince your reader/judge that your idea WILL work and WILL solve the underlying problem.
- Your action plan is the final product of the FPS process and should represent a culmination of your work in the previous five steps of the booklet. Make sure your plan demonstrates clear connections, creative AND futuristic thinking, and a potential for success! This step also forms the core component of most of your Projects’ Competition presentations.

Take-aways from this session

The FPSP 6-step problem-solving process is most relevant to Cat 11 – Future Trends, because Future Trends was modeled after FPSP.

But it is also highly relevant in the process of working on projects from other categories.

Many students commit the fallacy of working on their Projects’ Competition presentation without sufficient brainstorming (Steps 1 – 5).

This means that the Action Plan is not necessarily well thought-out and misses out on many other potential challenges and solutions that the group could have addressed.

Recap of the 6-step FPSP process

Step 1: Identify Potential Challenges / Problems

Step 2: Identify Underlying Problem (UP)

Step 3: Identify Potential Solutions for UP

Step 4: Design Criteria to Evaluate Potential Solutions in Step 3

Step 5: Apply criteria to Potential Solutions in Step 3

Step 6: Develop Action Plan based on Best Solution Identified

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