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You gotta fill a form or two-oo...

To help people structure their thinking when doing QWERTY®,  we've devised some paper forms.  They act like scaffolding while you think, giving support and security so you can build your 'house' (palace, penthouse, bungalow, duplex, maisonette, tent!) in whatever shape you want.

The forms point you in the right direction of what to do for that particular stage of QWERTY®.  There's room on them for you to handwrite your notes, or add helpful doodles or references etc. Your thinking output doesn't always have to be in the form of words.

At the bottom of each form, you'll see suggestions about which Forget-Me-Nots could be helpful at that stage.

In this blog we're going to look at some worked examples of how we've used forms at various stages using 'Decorating a Bedroom' as the base Question.  This was a project we did as a tenth birthday present for our daughter. We wanted to give her a 'big girl's bedroom' for going into double figures and she did a QWERTY(R) to decide how she wanted it to be decorated.

We'll talk you through the forms, to give you an idea of how they could be used.  These examples would be only a selection from the overall project, so we haven't numbered any of the pages, where you probably would. You could also order your own notes by adding an alphanumeric reference so that you don't get completely out of synch if you add further pages. For instance, you could always preface the number with the letter for that stage so you would have Q1, Q2; W1, W2, W3; E1, E2 etc.

As you will refer to your Question many times, we've done a version as an amendable Word document.  The instructions in each text box direct you to the sort of things you should be noting down at each stage. Just overwrite it with your own text. You'll find it here: Question.

Let's start with a couple of examples from Question.  The first one has some 'pre-filled' qualifiers  (and answers to them), which is the sort of thing you might come up with if you used our amendable Question form.

Completed Question Form for Decorating a Room
Template forms have pre-filled qualifers. You can type your own using our amendable Question form.

The following one could be a follow-on page to the first (i.e. the answer to 'others'). Alternatively, you could start with this one if you wanted to handwrite all your notes.

A completed form for the Question stage of decorating a room
All the qualifier boxes here were blank, to be filled in as part of the Question stage process.

At the bottom, as with all the forms, you'll see suggestions about which Forget-Me-Nots could be helpful at this stage.

Okay, so you've got your Question stage sorted out.  You know what you need and don't need as well as things that might be on your wishlist.  You're now ready to move on to Wonder.

Wonder is your 'Blue Sky' thinking.  It's all about getting your ideas down.  As many of them as possible.

There are no hard and fast rules about this form.  Get your ideas down however you want.  It's a good idea to keep it short - only single words or short phrases.  You might want to add doodles or sketches.  Use the whole page, or organise your ideas under headings (such as the qualifiers you had in the Question), or do it as something like a mindmap. We've included three examples in the gallery below.

Once you've got lots of ideas you can label them or colour-code them so you can see easily if you've thought about all of your qualifiers or if there are some things that you still need to find ideas for. Use post-it notes, coloured pens or highlighters, adding colours, codes or symbols that are meaningful for you.  It's your circus, your monkeys!

If you've got lots of qualifiers, and thus lots of labels (although labels don't have to be qualifiers - you can use them to identify other parts of your 'grand design' in any manner that you like), you can use our labels form as a 'key' or 'legend' to what you're doing.

Transferring your ideas to a labels form helps you see any 'gaps' in your thinking, so you could Wonder some more before carrying on, if you need to. They'll be useful at the ranking stage, too, when you're trying to compare solutions as you might value some criteria (i.e. labels) higher than others.

In our decorating package, we devised a set of forms just for labelling our ideas, to help us organise our thoughts. You'll see them below. In our paper forms 'pack' there is a blank one that you can use for your own labels, using more than one of them, as required.

​If you are still needing ideas, then try using some of the Forget-Me-Nots suggested at the bottom of the Wonder form.

Use as many sheets as you need - the more ideas you have, the better the end result is likely to be. You could have a different sheet for each qualifier if you wanted.

When you think you've got enough ideas, then move on to Explore.  That's where you take all those wonderful ideas of yours and start organising them into viable designs or solutions. You'll be manipulating them to form practical ways of resolving your Question.

When you are coming up with designs or solutions (i.e. a possible 'answer' to or 'resolution' of your Question) to take forward to the Rank stage, you are often coming up with a cocktail of ideas, rather than one single idea. It's that collection of ideas that will enable you to fulfil all of the qualifiers in your question as each idea might only address a single qualifier.

Look again at your labels, making sure that you have ideas in each category to use in your design solutions. If not, go back to Wonder. The labels can help you organise your thoughts in Explore so you start to see patterns, areas of greater importance (or preference!) or strengths and weaknesses in the ideas as a whole. They help you see the bigger picture before you drill down to the detail.

If you have lots of ideas, and there are potential answers to all your qualifiers, but they don't seem to give you exactly what you need, the Explore form reminds you about using ACES, where you Assess all your ideas and then start to Construct solutions (or components of it) by adding two or more ideas together; Enhance them by adding something to an idea to enrich it, or remove a problem; or Select the ideas that you think will work just the way they are. ACES is where you can strengthen your hand by adding a bit of 'bling' to 'blah', or bring the more fanciful ideas closer to earth by adding some practical fixes.

We've put a couple of examples below. We're looking at two different potential solutions to the 'decorating a room' question. You'll see we've marked our solution elements with the relevant symbol (+ for Construct; < for Enhance; ✓ for Select), which is good practice.

​So now you've considered all your Wonder ideas. They were the raw ingredients that you will mix together into possible solutions like a master chef, adding extra seasoning (interest) where you can. Bear in mind that a good Wonder idea, like 'staple' ingredients in a good cook's kitchen, could be used in more than one potential solution. For instance, we could have used 'buy a themed duvet' as an idea, usable in all of the potential solutions, but different in each one (e.g. rainforest duvet; wolf and stars duvet; pink/purple duvet with stars etc.).

Try and ensure that all your solutions are equally fleshed out, revisiting the Wonder stage, if you need to. You're now ready to weigh them up (or do a 'taste test', if we continue the metaphor) in Rank, in order to get the best solution to take forward.

It's up to you which forms you use and what order to use them in. The first form in the gallery above shows a very simple ranking exercise where the possible solutions are put in order of preference.

If you have complex solutions then you might want to look more closely at them in order to work out which one you prefer. That's where the other forms come in. Give it a WhiRL! is still looking at the wider picture, asking you to consider your solution(s) in 3 distinct areas (Do they work? Are they right? Do you like them?). P!C lets you consider the fine detail of solutions, thinking about the pros, cons and interesting elements of them.

You could compare all the solutions multiple times, using different criteria on each occasion (e.g. Whose Views suggests looking at them from someone else's point of view or you could use Six Honest Men to 'interrogate' your solutions). If this process throws up difficulties or weaknesses in solutions (especially in one you like!), then you could always revisit Wonder or Explore to see if you could find alternatives before making your final selection.

Once you have ranked your choices and picked the one(s) you want to go with, you're ready to move on to the Target stage, which is where you bring that solution to life.

The Target stage is basic project management. You have to work out what tasks you need to do (breaking them down into sub-tasks, if necessary), get whatever materials you need and decide on a schedule or running order for the tasks. You should identify if there are any dependencies, by which we mean a task that can only be done once something else is complete.

The gallery below has a range of worked examples from our decorating project. It starts with the main tasks and then looks at one complex task (the floor) where we needed to identify sub-tasks, timing and dependencies, using a separate sheet for each. We used highlighters to make it clear who was doing which task.

There. Done! Well, not quite. You still have YaY! to do, which in learning terms is arguably the most important stage. It's the one that gives you a chance to fine-tune, polish or enhance your project if there's still time, or helps you identify what went wrong if it didn't work. It's also where you take that knowledge and use it as the foundations for all those 'houses' you may build in the future. It embeds evaluation and review as a core tenet of your learning.

There are two key Forget-Me-Nots at this stage. The first is Gave it a WhiRL!, where you look at what you've done in an overall way and ask three important questions. Did it work? Obviously, if it didn't you then have to consider what to do to fix or replace it. Is it right? How does your project score on a moral or ethical scale? Do I like it? What do you do if you don't?

The last two questions are deliberately phrased in the present tense. The Target stage may be complete, but you are doing your deliberations NOW, while there may still be time to put things right or to carry forward the information to any future projects.

The second Forget-Me-Not is REF, where you review, evaluate and feedback on all the areas of your project. This is where you can look at the detail of it, rate it and comment.

Ideally, you should do a YaY! on both the product (the output of your project) and on the process itself (i.e. how you delivered it). There are other Forget-Me-Nots you can use at this stage, which you'll see at the bottom of the forms. Like all the Forget-Me-Nots, they are entirely optional, but will help add an extra dimension to your thinking.

This has been a quick sprint through the paper forms, using decorating our daughter's bedroom as an example. There's little doubt that everyone will use the forms in a slightly different way, to suit themselves and their own way of working. This was just to give you an idea of how they could be used. Go off and make them your own!

And just so you can see the power of the QWERTY(R) process... here's our finished result. One new bedroom, with a rainforest theme. Our daughter was absolutely delighted with it - to the extent that she now keeps it impeccably tidy, where before it was always a heap. Win, win!

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