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R is for Rank

Updated: May 20, 2020

So, by this time you have defined your Question and done some blue sky thinking in Wonder. You have come up with some viable solutions in Explore that you now you have to Rank.

You need to consider all the different possibilities you have come up with and rank them, so that if you are limited in how many of them you can use, you know which ones are better than others.

If you have similar options, you need to rank which one(s) will suit you best

Some solutions will be better, or more achievable, than others, so you need to be very clear about two things:

1. What are the key features or characteristics of your possible solutions? That, after all, is what you are going to be judging them on.

2. What criteria are you using to rank them? You have to know that in order to decide which suit(s) your purpose best. For instance you might want to choose the:

  • quickest

  • easiest

  • most fun

  • most colourful

  • most entertaining

  • most interesting

  • most novel

  • cheapest

  • or simply your own personal preference

At this point, you must revisit the Question - what solution will best answer your question or solve your problem? Choose your criteria carefully to make that a priority.

There are different ways to rank, depending on how many items you have. If you don't have vast amounts of options, then an easy way is to come up with a shortlist of things that you think will work best. The Forget-Me-Not P!C will be your best bet, here. Go through your Explore possibilities and decide which ones are pros, cons or interesting. Consider the features of each potential solution and sort them according to those three headings, or simply put a tick, a cross or a question mark beside each one on your original list depending on whether you think it is possible, not possible or could be considered. That might be all you need to do to help you decide on the best solution.

You could do that again, possibly several times, using a different criterion each time, to give a balanced overall rank when you have a few different options to choose from. Which solution ended up with the most ticks? Remember, a good solution isn't necessarily one that has NO drawbacks, just one where the total benefits outweigh them.

If you still have too many possible solutions, you can use a Quick Sort technique. It's particularly useful when you have to rank a lot of items quickly (hence the name!). Select one of your pros (or ticked) list at random. Compare it to all the others on that list. Anything you prefer goes on a better list, and anything you like less goes on a worse list. After you've compared them all, you discard the worse list. Do that again with another item, sorting all the other solutions according to whether you deem them better or worse than your selection. Afterwards, discard the worse pile. Continue doing this until you have decided on an overall favourite. This is the most efficient method if you have a lot of items to consider.

If you only have a few items, you could do a Bubble Sort. It is is similar to Quick Sort, but can take a bit longer to do as you compare just two items at a time until you have your preferred order. The advantage of Bubble Sort is that it is easier to consider more individual features in the comparison. Try putting your ideas on separate post-it notes and moving them up or down in priority as you compare them. At the end, you should have a convenient shortlist of possible solutions. It can be a good thing, sometimes, to have a set of solutions rather than a single answer. That way you have a ready made Plan B (or C or D) if the first thing you try doesn't work.

When we were doing the Playground exercise, we had another ranking technique: Democracy! We were doing QWERTY® as a group so everyone got to choose their 5 favourite Explore items for the playground. We counted up all the votes and the 5 elements with the highest scores were selected automatically. However, we then looked at that selection as a whole (i.e. to consider whether any of the elements were too similar) and gave the Learners the option to change their previous choices (or agree with someone else's) if that would make for a more interesting 'set' of items for the playground overall.

If you now have a preferred solution, or set of solutions, you are ready for the Target stage of QWERTY®.

We look at how to Rank on our YouTube channel. Check out R is for Rank.

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