You can download a PDF of this tool here: Time/Impact Matrix
Convergence Tool for Problem Finding
In creative problem solving, after you find your objective and learn more about why you want to solve it, you generate a lot of problems that are hindering you from reaching your objective. Your objective is your desired end-state; it’s how you ideally would want things to be. Usually there’s more than just 1 problem blocking you from reaching this objective. You brainstorm all these problems in the 3rd stage of creative problem solving, Problem Finding. You need to pick only one of these problems to generate ideas to solve it in the next stage, Idea Finding. This is a tool I created to show the problems that would have the most impact on getting you to your ideal end-goal.
- Brainstorm problem areas within your objective. If you want to, write them on Post-it Notes.
- Once you have an amount you’re comfortable moving forward with, go back through your problem list and determine the potential impact and timeframe for solving each problem.
- Impact – When this problem is solved, what kind of impact would it have on your objective? Would a potential solution completely fulfill your objective? Would it be a small step towards meeting your objective?
- Term – When you have a solution to this problem, how long would it take to implement it? Could a solution be implemented tomorrow? Next week? Next month? Next year? Next decade?
- According to your determinations, find where each problem would fall in the matrix above. Place the number from the quadrant next to the problem.
- Cluster your problems together by number by rewriting them with the appropriate number at the top or moving all your Post-It notes with the same number together. Title each cluster by quadrant number.
- Within each cluster, rank each problem by impact and timeframe against the other problems. The problem you think will have the most impact should be ranked a 1; the second-most impact a 2 and so on until all the problems have been ranked. Do the same for each problem for timeframe, starting with the shortest.
- Multiply the impact and timeframe rankings together for each problem. This is the overall time/impact ranking for that problem. Place or rewrite the problems according to their rankings starting with the lowest total number to the highest total number.
- You have now determined and grouped your ideas by their potential impact and timeframe. Select a problem to move forward with into idea finding/ideation. We recommend choosing a problem from Quadrant 1 or 2 with a low overall time/impact ranking.