Reason for Use
Challenges can be structured in hierarchies, e.g. from “How to land a rocket on the moon?” to “How to make a pen that writes in areas of no gravity?’ If your opportunity is complex and you wish to understand the hierarchy of challenges within it, you can use a Level Map.
It enables you to:
- Diagram that hierarchy and see the relationships before you choose one to work on.
- Chunk the challenge into lower level challenges to tackle
- Clarify the challenge for people.
- Understand whether you should broaden or narrow the scope of the challenge you wish to tackle (“How to land on the moon” at a strategic level and “How to write in areas of no gravity” at the operational level) depending on your ability to influence it
- Increase the potential challenges to exploit (and split them between your team]
- Scope the number of ideas / solutions you will generate in the Create Solutions stage (e.g. “How to write in areas of no gravity” at the operational level?” is likely to generate fewer and different ideas to (“How to land on the moon”). Therefore you may wish to choose a lower level challenge.
Action to Take
1. Use rectangular “Super Sticky “ Post It Notes
- Start by writing a challenge on the note, e.g. “How to increase new revenue for accepting banks?” The use of “How to (H2)…?” turns a statement into a constructive challenge
2. Place the challenge centrally on a large surface.
3. Go up to a broader level of focus by asking, “Why”? E.g. “Why do we want to increase new revenue for accepting banks?” The answer might be “To increase overall revenue for accepting banks.”
- Look for challenge statements the team has written already that you can use, or
- Convert the answer into a challenge e.g. How to (H2) increase revenue for accepting banks
4. Go down to a narrower level of focus by asking, “What hinders us?” E.g. “What hinders us increasing new revenue for accepting banks?” The answer might be “New technology does not bring in new revenue”
- Convert the answer into a challenge e.g. “H2 make new technology generate revenue?
5. Ask, “Why else?” to identify more challenges at a higher level or “What else hinders us?” to identify more challenges at the lower level.
6. Check the logic up and down by asking the questions “Is this one reason why?’ and “Is this one issue hindering us?” when placing new statements.
 Problem or challenge hierarchies are a well known concept. I first saw a tool for building them used by Professor Min Basadur in his book “Simplex – A flight to creativity.”