Productive Thinking

From Itch to Action Plan

The ThinkX Productive Thinking model is a six-step problem-solving and opportunity-finding methodology that builds on 50 years of research by the Creative Education Foundation, 30 years of research by NASA, and five years of field testing. It combines the situation analyses and ideation strengths of CEF’s methodology with the success criteria and project mapping techniques of NASA’s iDEF methodology.

The Productive Thinking Model consists of six interlocking steps:

Step 1: What’s Going On?
New ways to truly understand your issues and challenges so you can avoid the “Great Answer – Wrong Question” trap that so many people and organizations fall into. In this step you analyze the problem so you can really understand what’s making you itch and why, who else is involved, and what you need to know to move forward.

Step 2: What’s Success?
The secret of visioning — imagining the future you want to see so you can determine clear, measurable goals and criteria for success. This is the step where you harness the power of dreams so you can establish Future Pull. This is where you overcome the gravitational pull of the past by painting a picture of a future so powerful and compelling that you it literally pulls you toward it.

Step 3: What’s the Question?
The right questions effectively frame your challenge. Over and over we hear how questions are more important than answers. But how do you figure out the right questions to ask? In this step you find the questions that, if answered, open doorways to powerful, innovative solutions. Articulating the Catalytic Questions to your challenge is like finding that one thread in a knot that seems to loosen all the other threads and allows you to find a solution.

Step 4: Generate Answers
Brainstorming is like cholesterol: there’s good Brainstorming and bad Brainstorming. And most of us have experienced only the bad. Bad Brainstorming usually produces only a few ideas — and not very original ones at that. Good Brainstorming lets you get to answers that are full of creativity and promise — answers that really do have to power to produce innovative results.

Step 5: Forge the Solution
In this step you will learn about a tool that presents a whole new way of evaluating ideas — not just judging them as good or bad, acceptable or unacceptable, but actually improving them. This tool, called POWER, is a way of evaluating ideas that actually makes them stronger, more robust, and more workable. Thus you can transform what might at first seem like ho-hum ideas into a powerful, innovative solutions.

Step 6: Align Resources
The simplest, fastest way to translate your solutions into workable action plans. How many potentially great ideas never see the light of day because they seem too complicated, too impossible to even start? This step introduces a practical approach to take ideas off the drawing board and make them into reality.