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4 “I”s (Impact, Influence, Imagination, Interest)

  • Use when selecting a challenge to invest time and effort in.

  • This is a tool for Convergence

  • Prerequisite for this tool is a list of challenges to choose from.

What and Why?

The 4 "I"s - Impact, Influence, Imagination, and Interest - provide a framework for assessing and prioritizing challenges or opportunities.

  • Impact looks at potential outcomes,

  • Influence considers the ability to effect change,

  • Imagination assesses creative thinking and innovation potential, and

  • Interest evaluates personal or collective passion.

By using these criteria, individuals or organizations can focus their resources on endeavors that align with their interests, offer room for creative solutions, have influence potential, and can generate significant positive outcomes. This approach enables a systematic and thoughtful approach to decision-making and problem-solving, maximizing the chances of success and value creation.


Use this tool if you want to:

  • Assess and prioritize problems or opportunities based on interest, creative potential, influence potential, and expected impact.

  • Focus limited resources, time, and effort on the most promising and impactful endeavors.

  • Encourage a thoughtful and systematic approach to problem-solving and decision-making.

  • Maximize the chances of success and value creation by considering these criteria.

  • Build consensus around which challenges they should focus their efforts on.

Facilitation Elements

A. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation (60 minutes)

5 mins

​NOTE: This tool is used after a Challenge Wall has been populated with post-its of challenge statements (“How might we…?/ What might be all the…?”) generated by using the “How might we…?” tool.

  1. Introduce the 4”I”s tool to the participants. Explain that we shall be using 4 lenses as criteria for identifying those challenges which would be the most strategically advantageous for us to focus on.

  2. Use 4 large Post-its to list the 4 criteria with a brief description of each. (Impact = something that will make a difference; Influence = something that falls within our sphere of influence; Interest = something I am motivated to work on; Imagination - something that requires an innovative solution/new thinking)

  3. Tell the group that we shall be applying each criteria as a filter to reduce the number of options we have to consider when we apply the next criteria.

  4. Guide the group to apply only the single criteria that is under consideration in each phase of the activity.

  5. Remind the group of the initial Goal focus or Problem focus that they were working on when they generated the Challenges using HMW. This will refocus their attention on the purpose of this activity.


5 mins

  1. Introduce the first criteria: “Impact.”

  2. Post this criteria somewhere visible to the group.

  3. Ensure that the participants all understand the criteria that is to be considered.

  4. Provide each participant with 5 colored dots.

10 mins

(Convergence)

  1. Individuals work alone to review all the post-its on the challenge wall and they use the colored dots they have been given to identify those challenges that meet the criteria that has been posted.

  2. Remind participants that any post-it with a dot on it will remain in play.

  3. They may add more than one of their dots to a post-it and they can also add a dot to a post-it that already has a dot on it.

  4. Encourage them to divide and conquer if there is a large number of original post-its on the Challenge wall, with a small group being tasked with reviewing a certain group of post-its and another group being asked to review a different group of post-its.

  5. When everyone has placed their dots, move all the post-its with dots onto a fresh flipchart sheet.

3 mins

  1. Post the second criteria: “Influence.”

  2. Confirm that the participants understand the criteria.

  3. Instruct the participants that this time they will make selections from among the post-its that made the cut when we applied the first criteria.

  4. Distribute 3 colored dots of a different color from round 1.

7 mins

(Convergence)

  1. Individuals work alone to review all the post-its on the flip charts of post-its that met the first criteria and they use the colored dots they have been given to identify those challenges that meet the second criteria that has been posted.

  2. Tell participants that any post-it with the new color dot on it will remain in play at the end of this round.

  3. When everyone has placed their dots, move all the post-its with second color dots onto a fresh flipchart sheet.

2 mins

  1. Post the third criteria: “Imagination.”

  2. Confirm that the participants understand the criteria.

  3. Instruct the participants that this time they will make selections from among the post-its that made the cut when we applied the second criteria.

  4. Distribute 2 colored dots of a different color from rounds 1 and 2.

5 mins

(Convergence)

  1. Individuals work alone to review all the post-its on the flip charts of post-its that met the first criteria and they use the colored dots they have been given to identify those challenges that meet the third criteria that has been posted.

  2. Tell participants that any post-it with the new color dot on it will remain in play at the end of this round.

  3. When everyone has placed their dots, move all the post-its with third color dots onto a fresh flipchart sheet.

3 mins

  1. Post the fourth criteria: “Interest.”

  2. Confirm that the participants understand the criteria.

  3. Instruct the participants that this time they will make selections from among the post-its that made the cut when we applied the third criteria.

  4. Distribute 1 colored dot of a different color from rounds 1, 2, and 3.

5 mins

(Convergence)

  1. Individuals work alone to review all the post-its on the flip charts of post-its that met the first criteria and they use the colored dots they have been given to identify those challenges that meet the third criteria that has been posted.

  2. Tell participants that any post-it with the new color dot on it will remain in play at the end of this round.

  3. When everyone has placed their dots, move all the post-its with fourth color dots onto a fresh flipchart sheet.

10 mins

  1. Ask the group to review the post-its that met all four criteria. These should be the post-its selected in the final round. These final post-its represent the challenges that are most worth pursuing.

  2. If there are still several challenges left - ask the group to cluster like challenges and to identify the emergent themes.

  3. Invite the group to reach a consensus around which challenges they might choose to work on.

  4. With a larger group you might encourage them to select more than one challenge and groups of 3-5 participants can work on a selected challenge.

5 mins

Debrief the activity. Invite the group to share what they experienced as a result of using this tool.

  • What did you observe or experience as a result of using this tool?

  • What insights did you have?

  • Can you see yourself using this tool? How?

B. How Groups Are Configured

  • This activity works well with groups of 20 or fewer participants.

  • Each participant works solo with groups forming around a challenge at the conclusion of the activity

C. How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed

  • Ensure that the Challenge Wall post-its are spread out providing adequate access for participants to review the post-its with ease.

  • Colored dot stickers (¼ “ preferred) in 4 different colors

  • Large post-its (optional)

  • Flip charts on stands or paper roll on wall - to create space for relocating post-its as they meet the criteria for selection.

Tips and Watchouts

  • Choosing which criteria needs to be applied first could change the outcome of this exercise. Consider which of the four criteria are the most important and start with those first. Our recommended sequence is:

    • Criteria 1: Impact

    • Criteria 2: Influence

    • Criteria 3: Imagination

    • Criteria 4: Interest

By using this sequence we identify all the challenges that would have the most impact, which we can influence, which require new thinking and which we are personally interested in working on.

  • Be aware that the number of post-its for consideration will reduce in number in each round as those post-its that fail to meet the additional criteria are left behind.

  • If there is a challenge that does not meet any one criteria but is a strong candidate for the other criteria - consider if the challenge can be rephrased or modified so that it might satisfy all four criteria.

  • Convergent thinking requires much more cognitive effort than divergent thinking. Try to time this activity when the group is most alert and energized.

  • If the convergence requires more time than allocated - don’t rush it - as convergence is also where we build consensus, and a forced convergence will result in weak consensus.

  • Never try to combine criteria. This creates confusion and can lead to mixed results which will later become obstacles in your problem-solving process.

  • At this stage discourage the group from adding new challenges to the mix after the process of convergence has been completed. Any challenges that are added after the criteria have been applied will not have passed the rigor of group evaluation and would not represent group consensus.

Informal Application

When making choices about where to direct your efforts and energy in your daily life, ask yourself - which of these options:

  • Needs most attention? (Impact)

  • Do I have agency to act upon? (Influence)

  • Does it have a known solution? (Imagination)

  • Am I motivated to work on it? (Interest)

Riffs and Variations

  • The criteria of “Immediacy” could also be included in the decision-making process. This criteria considers which of the challenges is the most urgent and requires immediate action.

  • Expand the tool by adding an additional criterion, such as Implementation. This new criterion focuses on the practicality and feasibility of implementing the chosen solution or addressing the problem. It considers factors like resources, timelines, and logistics.

  • 3 "I"s: Simplify the tool by focusing on three key criteria: Interest, Impact, and Feasibility. This variation combines the personal or collective interest aspect, the potential impact, and the practicality or feasibility of the solution. It streamlines the evaluation process while still considering essential elements.

  • Customize Criteria: Modify or add criteria based on the specific needs or context. For example, you could include criteria like Sustainability, Scalability, or Cost-effectiveness. Tailoring the criteria allows for a more precise evaluation and selection process.

Attribution:

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