Organizational Developmental Consultant

Six Techniques to Brainstorm Ideas: #5 STP

May 8, 2014
“Often our discussions ramble from problem to solution and back again. Sometimes we even look for solutions before agreeing on what we want as an end result. What can we do to focus on one thing at a time without over-structuring ourselves?”
5. STP
What Is STP?
STP (Situation, Target, Proposal) is a brainstorming technique designed to clarify a situation, define a target, and articulate a proposed solution. Situation refers to the current, undesirable state. Target refers to a future, desired state. The Proposal portion of the equation is the proposed action(s) to move from the current situation to the desired target. Some people have the ability to jump from one category to another without problem or confusion. But this is not true for all individuals, and it’s certainly not true for groups of people. Focusing on one aspect of the process at a time avoids confusion and improves results.
When to Use STP

  •  When an issue is multifaceted
  •  When the group members needs to determine where they are, where they want to be, and how best to get there
  •  When you want to clarify issues for a presentation
  •  When discussions seem to be unfocused and without direction

How to Use STP

  1. Write Situation, Target, and Proposal on a white board or chart papers in three sections.
    SITUATION
    TARGET
    PROPOSAL
  2. Brainstorming as a group, start with the first category on the chart, Situation. Ask the question: “What do you see as the current situation?”
NOTE: Review the ground rules for your meeting and the guidelines for brainstorming if necessary. Chart the group’s responses.
NOTE: If ideas emerge from the discussion that belong in the Target or Proposal categories, chart them accordingly with permission from the person submitting the idea. If you find that the group is jumping all over the place, remind them to focus on the Situation category first.
3. After all ideas are charted, go back and obtain agreement from the group on each of the brainstormed items.
NOTE: It is important that the analysis of ideas follows the process of brainstorming. Do not analyze the ideas during the brainstorming portion of the process.
     a. Read all of the brainstormed comments. Ask, “Which comments need clarification?”
     b. Ask, “Is there anything written here that you cannot agree with?”   Where disagreements exist, look for the cause
         of the disagreement, and modify or clarify the statement as necessary.
NOTE: If there is a controversy or disagreement about any particular point and the conversation is bogging down, ask the group, “How shall we handle this?” You will want to compromise between having complete agreement and not getting bogged down. It may be a good idea to come back to a point of disagreement later, after the rest of the work in that section is complete.
NOTE: Be sure that the group is not stating the Situation as a Proposal. For example: “We don’t have money for a new building” presumes that a new building is a proposed solution to some problem. A better way to address the situation would be to describe the current situation without bias about the solution. For example, “There are not enough desks, phones, and computers for everyone during peak periods of use.” Look for open-ended questions to support you when this problem occurs. For example: “What specifically is causing you to conclude that we need a new building?”
  1. Once the Situation area is completed, move to the next category,Target. Target refers to defining your preferred future or the way the situation would be if it were perfect or at least satisfactory. Ask the question, “What would it be like if it were perfect, or at least satisfactory?”

a. Brainstorm as before. Chart all responses.

          b. Seek consensus, modifying the ideas as necessary.
OPTION: Before defining your Target, create a list of consequences that result from the current Situation. This reinforces why change is important.
     5. Use the same process for Proposal. This may include brainstorming several solutions and picking one, or creating an
          action plan. Ask the question, “How can we move from our current situation to our preferred target?”
          a. Brainstorm as before. Chart all responses.
          b. Seek consensus, modifying the ideas as necessary.
     6. Document and send out your summary for participant approval. Use this resulting information to start action or to
          obtain approval to start action.
Summary
STP (Situation, Target, Proposal) is a brainstorming technique designed to clarify the situation, define the target, and articulate a solution. Situation refers to the current, undesirable state. The Target refers to a future, desired state. The Proposal refers to the proposed action that moves the situation from the Proposal to the Target.

  1. Write Situation, Target, and Proposal on a large board or three pages of chart paper.
  2. Brainstorm the Situation portion of the equation.“What do you see as the current situation?”
  3. Seek agreement on the brainstorming ideas developed in step 2.
  4. Use the same process for Target that you used for Situation in steps 2 and 3.“What would our situation be like if it were perfect or at least satisfactory?”
  5. Use the same process for Proposal that you used for Situation and Target. “How can we move from our current situation to our preferred target?”
  6. Use the resulting information to start action or to obtain approval to start action.
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One Response to Six Techniques to Brainstorm Ideas: #5 STP

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