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W is for Wonder

Updated: May 20, 2020

Wonder is the really fun stage of QWERTY® where you get to consider all the things that could provide a solution to your question. At this stage, you don't need to worry about how likely or unlikely they are or consider the practicalities. It's all about thinking BIG. Later on in the process you will reduce what you come up with to manageable proportions, but right now you want to be as creative as possible. Don't limit yourself unnecessarily.

Wonder without limits.

So what are you going to wonder about?

You could consider special features or something that would make your solution particularly unusual or different. Remember, unique is good!

If there are any special requirements, you could be thinking at this stage of all the different ways you could meet them. Alternatively, you might want to consider how to avoid using something that you can’t have.

The key thing at the Wonder stage is to keep an open mind. Don’t assume that something has to be done in a certain way. Avoid preconceptions!

You should use some of your other Got-A-Head®? skills and techniques to help you:

  • Memory - what have you come across in the past that might help? What did you like or not like about those things? How could you change anything you’ve already come across to make it better or more interesting?

  • Observation - look around you. Notice details about anything in your current environment that could help you come up with possible solutions (or elements of a solution!).

  • Reading Effectively - Look up what you might need to know. What keywords could you use to get the best results? This can also come under the general heading of Research.

  • Forget-Me-Nots can provide lots of other avenues to explore. For instance Essence, where you consider what essential elements are important. Could you try changing one of the most basic elements (e.g. whether something has to be on a flat surface or not)? Or Alternative Angles, where you approach something from a different direction or the angle from which you view it. The go-to Forget-Me-Not for this phase, though, is MORE Inspiration which we'll look at in the practical example below.

Use Forget-Me-Nots to give you further options

In Q is for Question, we mentioned an exercise we did where different groups of youngsters had to design a playground. We were quite specific - it had to be an amazing playground, something that could win awards, that had 5 activities and a theme but didn't include a swing, a slide or a roundabout (unless they were really unusual).

Let's look at some of the things they did in the Wonder stage, to give you some concrete examples of how to use this technique.

The Question said that they had to include a theme, so we got them to Wonder about all the different kinds of theme that could be. Working as a group they came up with a list of possible themes, including such things as animals, space, the sea, pirates, science, fictional characters, ecology etc. We soon found that it was important to jot the answers down or we started to forget what some of them were. Having a written note also made things easier when we progressed to the Explore and Rank stages.

The Forget-Me-Not MORE Inspiration can give them a good starting point. It suggests they use Memory, Observation, Research and Enquiry to generate ideas.

For instance, using Memory - we asked them to think back to any playgrounds they had visited - which were the best ones? What made them so good? Is there anything that we could use to influence the design of this playground? Even if they remember any that were dull, they could think about ways they could have made them better by adding 'if only' ideas.

Observation is useful at this stage, too. Could they see anything in the world around them that could inspire some ideas for this Wonder stage? We asked them to consider things like what items were made of (wood, metal, plastic, recycled materials), or if they had any special colours or features. Was the elevation important? Were there any moving parts? They came up with things by themselves like the lighting conditions and heat.

We also looked at pictures of interesting playgrounds as Research. If they had been doing it for themselves, they could have searched the internet (e.g Pinterest) or books for other ideas. Which things did they like? Which of them would they consider including in their own playground?

Enquire is a practical element, where they can ask how things worked, or what other people like (e.g. reviews). Would they include the most popular option elsewhere in their own playground?

What sorts of activities would they want to include? They found this stage the hardest, until the group selected the theme they were going to use - then they started to generate ideas for items that were inspired by a particular theme, drawing on elements they'd already touched on using MORE. So many ideas, in fact, that we had to cut it short and move on to Explore before we ran out of time!

Wonder is what some people call 'blue sky thinking'. Don't let clouds of common sense get in the way. Don't get us wrong, common sense is hugely valuable - we'll use it a lot in the later stages of QWERTY® - but at this point, you just want to be as innovative and creative as you can be without adding any unnecessary limitations or filters.

Remember, this doesn't have to be a long process. Sometimes you don't have a long time to do a QWERTY® - but the more often you do it, the easier and faster it becomes.

Our W is for Wonder clip on YouTube will explain more about this stage, with practical examples.

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