Today at work, I mentioned that I had participated in a Future Problem Solving competition and, much to my shock, someone else on my team not only knew what it was, but had also participated in one as well.
When I was in junior high, we lived in Illinois and the Future Problem Solvers Bowl was an after school program where we worked with teams to examine scenarios and work through a problem solving process. We went to regional and statewide competitions where we were presented with a scenario and had to work through the process to develop a solution and then present our conclusion.
When we moved to South Carolina, there wasn’t a Future Problem Solvers Bowl in the state. But in retrospect, I still use many of the tactics that I learned every day.
The Future Problem Solving Process is:
- Identify challenges
- Select an underlying problem
- Produce solution ideas
- Generate criteria to judge solutions
- Evaluate solutions with criteria
- Develop an action plan
It’s basically the foundation of a good design process. And in competition, you learn to apply the process quickly, under pressure, with a team and then present your findings.
I hadn’t thought about Future Problem Solving in years, but in retrospect, I can’t imagine a better foundation for my design career.