To achieve Step 4, individuals will show that they can generate ideas to make something better.
In the previous step, individuals focused on how to generate ideas when given a clear brief and success criteria. This step continues to focus on creating ideas but without the brief and success criteria being given. Instead, to improve something, individuals have to be able to identify what the success criteria are for themselves.
The building blocks of this step are learning:
In the last step, we looked at success criteria, which we said were what will tell you what your idea needs to be able to do or answer to be judged successful.
If you don’t have success criteria, it is impossible to come up with great ideas because you have no way of knowing whether an idea is a good one or not. This means that if we are not given success criteria, then we need to work some out for ourselves.
Some questions that we might ask ourselves to develop those success criteria are:
We can use this thought process to work out what are the success criteria of the product or service – what is it trying to achieve and for whom? Once we know the success criteria, we can work out how to make something better.
When thinking about improving something, you might start from a problem that you have experienced in using the product or service:
This gives you a success criteria to work towards – you will be successful in improving something if it can do it better.
However, it is really important that we think about whether your idea might solve a problem but accidentally make something else worse.
To take our car example from earlier, adding some overhead storage on a sports car might mean that it can carry more luggage. However, the downside of that might be that it would ruin the aerodynamics of the vehicle, and also make it heavier so it would be slower – which might be an important success criteria.
The other important test for improvements is that they should be feasible. We looked at what it meant to be feasible before, but essentially it means that something is achievable in terms of cost and being real. These should also be success criteria but can easily be overlooked.
In education we work hard to improve and develop our skills, knowledge and character. When learning it’s important to be curious and to ask questions which can help us make improvements. We can use success criteria to help improve our work, ideas or ways of working. We might be dissatisfied with a grade or want to make improvements to a product we have made. We should carefully consider key questions before making any changes to ensure our ideas don’t make something else worse. Learning to develop your own success criteria is an important part of independent learning as you progress through education and take charge of your studies.
Every job will require you to generate ideas and make improvements. We may come up with ideas to update products and resources, to support well-being, to make processes more efficient, or to improve sustainability. When working on or managing a task or project to improve something, you can ask yourself key questions to test whether your ideas are realistic and make sure that all issues are addressed. Success criteria may include budget, time frames, materials or resources. Ultimately, making improvements to key parts of the workplace will benefit both yourself and your colleagues.
Curiosity and creativity help us to make improvements to our lives. We might come up with ideas to improve our health, our home or daily routine. Making changes helps us develop and learn. We can make small improvements, like adding a new ingredient to our favourite recipe, or make bigger improvements like redesigning our workspace.
To best practise this step of Creativity, apply what you have learnt to a real-life situation. Choose one or more of the activities below, remind yourself of the key points and strategies in the step, and have a go!
To teach this step:
This step can be reinforced in the classroom, and learners can also be encouraged to think more widely across their experience at school and at home to identify things, whether products or services, that they could improve. The teacher can take the lead on sharing examples of where they have changed something or come up with new ideas to make things better so that learners realise that they probably all have areas of their lives where they can come up with ideas to make things better.
This step is best assessed through a structured challenge. For example, by setting learners a challenge to improve something that they are familiar with, and providing them with some cues to think through the logical process to ensure they really are making improvements, not just changes.
This step is relevant to all who can apply their ideas to improve something at work.
To build this step in the work environment, managers could:
Explain to an individual the concept of success criteria and how these can be used to determine whether their ideas will help to improve something. This might lead to a discussion about the value of success criteria to the process of making something better.
Model to an individual, or group of individuals, a process of generating ideas to improve something. This can be about improving something the individuals are familiar with, such as one of the company’s products. During the demonstration, the manager can model the three stages of the process:
Task an individual to generate ideas to make improvements in another way. This example might be about an individual using problems to generate ideas about potential solutions.
Reflect with the individual about the opportunities they have to improve products or services in their work.
There are plenty of opportunities for building this skill in the workplace:
For those already employed, this step is best assessed through observation or questioning. For instance:
During the recruitment process, this step could be assessed by:
We work with a wide range of organisations, who use the Skills Builder approach in lots of different settings – from youth clubs, to STEM organisations, to careers and employability providers.
We have a lot of materials available to support you to use the Skills Builder Universal Framework with the individuals you work with, including:
We also do a lot of work with organisations who join the Skills Builder Partnership to build the Universal Framework into their work and impact measurement systems. You can find out a lot more using the links below.
At home, you can easily support your child to build their essential skills. The good news is that there
are lots of ways that you can have a big impact, including: