Define, Open, Identify and Transform... are steps used to artificially mimic the natural, creative problem-solving process, according to Robert Olson in his book, The Art of Creative Thinking. (Perennial Library. ISBN 0-06-097051-0. 1980.) The DO IT catalysts may be used separately for quick problem solving, or together as a complete process. There are questions and catalytic activities for each of these steps, beautifully summarized by Charles Cave in the table below.
The DO IT Process and Catalysts
DEFINE the problem carefully to make sure you are solving the real problem and to help engage your unconscious and conscious minds to the problem.
- Ask why the problem exists. This may lead to a broader statement of the problem.
- Try to subdivide the problem into smaller problems. This may lead to a narrower restatement of the problem.
Write down at least three two-word statements of the problem objective. Select the combination of words which best represents the precise problem you want to solve. Use this to write a new, more optimal and effective restatement of the problem.
List the goals, objectives and/or criteria which the solution of the problem is to satisfy. (Think of the obstacles which must be overcome.) Then stretch each goal, objective or criterion and write down any ideas which are stimulated.
Write down the most optimal statement of the problem.
OPEN yourself to consider many diverse solution ideas. Delay judgment on ideas generated until the Identify step. First, list any ideas which are on your mind.
Ask other people with diverse backgrounds, knowledge and intelligence for solutions to your problem. Use their solutions as prompters for your own ideas.
List ridiculous, laughable ideas. Use them to trigger more reasonably, possible usable solutions to your problem.
Stimulate fresh ideas by forcing similarities between your problem and things which aren't logically related to your problem.
1 - Write down the name of a physical object, picture, plant or animal.
2 - List its characteristics in detail
3 - Use the listed characteristics to stimulate insights into and ideas for the solution to your problem.
Circle the best ideas generated during the Define and Open steps.
IDENTIFY the best solution to your problem and modify it until you are ready to transform your idea into action.
Review your goals, objectives and/or criteria then trust your own gut-level feeling to select the best idea from the already circled ideas.
List the negative aspects of your idea. Be vicious! Then modify the solution to reduce the negative aspects.
Exaggerate the worst and best potential consequence which might result from your solution. Modify your solution to minimize bad consequences and maximize good consequences.
Carefully write down a statement of your final solution idea.
TRANSFORM your solution idea into action. Use the DO IT process and catalysts again to help creatively solve the problem which you now have of "How to transform your solution idea into action