Leading modules


Module 5 “Can I solve problems?” – Creative problem solving

Unit 3 – How to identify possible solutions?
How to analyze ideas and possible solutions?

Before starting this next stage of CPS, the Develop stage, you should select the ideas you wish to analyse. To do this, you can first divide all generated ideas by a brainstorming session into

Future not yet feasible ideas (dreams, visionaries,…)

Existing feasible ideas (easy to implement, low risk, previous examples,…)

Innovative feasible ideas (make a distinction, original,…)

Once you have selected a few feasible ideas for the problem solution you should assess them by asking also several questions: Is it an idea or an opportunity? Is it a current or future opportunity? Has anyone else seized it? Is it distinctive and different from existing approaches? What resources (knowledge, skills, finance, technology etc) would be required to make it happen? Is it compatible with my goals, interests and experience?

There exist also a number of convergent/critical thinking techniques to analyse ideas and possible solutions ; we will explain some of them here:


A SWOT analysis is a technique to analyse the situation before taking a decision or change a strategy. The tool can be used to help a person or organization identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats related to business competition or project planning.

Strengths and weakness are frequently internally related, while opportunities and threats commonly focus on the external environment. The name is an acronym for the four parameters the technique examines:

Strengths: characteristics of the business or project that give it an advantage over others.

Weaknesses: characteristics of the business that place the business or project at a disadvantage relative to others.

Opportunities: elements in the environment that the business or project could exploit to its advantage.

Threats: elements in the environment that could cause trouble for the business or project.

A SWOT is a perfect activity before analysing a possible solution or idea to implement, because you will get an overview of what currently works and what doesn’t, so you get an accurate feeling of the situation before moving on.

A more suitable technique for idea analysis is the PPCO analysis


PPCO is like a SWOT analysis but in a more positive end. A moving towards approach instead of getting away approach. Facing truth and reality in a way of opportunities. If you have a good idea the PPCO analysis will show you its potentials and limitations with a triple positive state.

What is positive about the idea?
Why should I implement this idea?
What are the future possibilities if the idea were pursued?
What are the extra or super pluses?
What are the limitations of the idea?
How can I overcome the concerns?

Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons is a timeless method for analyzing an option or specific decisions.  A more advanced way of doing a pros & cons analysis is to include two additional areas.  First, look at how the stakeholders, those who will be impacted by this decisions, will be impacted.  Second, look at the risks associated with this decision.  How significant are these risks?  do these risks help to drive the decision one way of the other?

Start by clearly describing the specific objective for this pros & cons analysis.  For example, “Should we move the company from a monthly goals cycle to a quarterly goals cycle?  Having a clear objective framed as a question will allow you to share the best input.

Decision tree 

Decision trees are a projecting of expected outcomes and also an excellent tool for helping you to choose between several courses of action. They are very visual and help the user understand the risks and rewards associated with each choice.

First, represent as squares decisions to be made.  These are the decisions that you can make with certainty.  The branches coming out of decision 1 lead to the different options that you have as a result of making decision.  A and B are these options, and around them represent uncertainty as to what outcomes might happen.  Unlike the squares, which have certainty, the circles represent external events that you have no control over.  Each path you take, from left to right, leads to a different outcome with expected values calculated by the user to help understand the process.