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Thread: The Phoenix Checklist

  1. #1
    Silver Member Vincent's Avatar
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    The Phoenix Checklist

    A few weeks ago I came across a problem solving technique called The PHOENIX CHECKLIST. It is a series of questions that was originally developed by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to encourage agents to look at a challenge from several different angles.

    Originally I was looking for an "opportunity checklist," but I found this just as useful by manipulating the questions to suit my needs. What I liked about this checklist is its ability to view the problem/opportunity from a different view, imagine possible solutions and generally help in giving one a free flow of thoughts.

    One think I've learnt from this and any other technique is that they are not cast in stone. You can and should add, change, leave out or develop your own questions, which will help you clarify your situation at hand.

    Phoenix Checklist Questions
    The Problem
    1. Why is it necessary to solve the problem?
    2. What benefits will you receive by solving the problem?
    3. What is the unknown?
    4. What is it you don’t yet understand?
    5. What is the information you have?
    6. What isn’t the problem?
    7. Is the information sufficient? Or is it insufficient? Or redundant? Or contradictory?
    8. Should you draw a diagram of the problem? A figure?
    9. Where are the boundaries of the problem?
    10. Can you separate the various parts of the problem? Can you write them down? What are the relationships of the parts of the problem?
    11. What are the constants (things that can’t be changed) of the problem?
    12. Have you seen the problem before?
    13. Have you seen this problem in a slightly different form?
    14. Do you know a related problem?
    15. Can you think of a familiar problem having the same or a similar unknown?
    16. Suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. Can you use it? Can you use its method?

    Phoenix Checklist Questions

    The Plan
    1. Can you solve the whole problem? Part of the problem?
    2. What would you like the resolution to be? Can you picture it?
    3. How much of the unknown can you determine?
    4. Can you derive something useful from the information you have?
    5. Have you used all the information?
    6. Have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?
    7. Can you separate the steps in the problem-solving process? Can you determine the correctness of each step?
    8. What creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? How many different techniques?
    9. Can you see the result? How many different kinds of results can you see?
    10. How many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?
    11. What have others done?
    12. Can you intuitively create a solution? Can you check the results?
    13. What should be done? How should it be done?
    14. Where should it be done?
    15. Who should do it?
    16. What do you need to do at this time?
    17. Who will be responsible for what?
    18. Can you use this problem to solve some other problems?
    19. What is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?
    Vincent Marino
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  2. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    May 2006
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    Thanks for posting this, Vincent. Very useful!
    Seeing opportunity changes nothing. Seizing opportunity and running with it changes lives.

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