This is a part of the Creative Problem Solving Toolkit (2023).
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.
A. Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation (60 minutes)
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.
Debrief the activity. Invite the group to share what they experienced as a result of using this tool.
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.
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.