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Prior to introducing a group to a problem the Greeting card method invites the group to create their own stimulating problem solving environment. A sense of comradeship is thus introduced and a feeling of ownership and involvement in the problem solving is experienced. This technique was created by James Pickens in 1981 and described by Arthur VanGundy in the first edition of his book, Techniques of Structured Problem Solving.
Developing the environment
- The supervisor encourages the participants to produce some motivational objects that will be of use in problem solving.
- Split the main group into sub-groups of 4-5 individuals equipped with paste, scissors, magazines, illustrated catalogues, thick A3 or A4 paper, and felt-tipped pens.
- Members of the sub-group browse their catalogues and magazines, cutting out at least 10 pictures of interest and relevance.
- Together or individually the sub-group member create several greetings cards (or ‘stimulus cards’) sticking pictures, collage-style on A3 or A4 sheets that are folded thus that they function as greetings cards. They then add their own ‘greetings-card’ style message.
- Each sub-group displays their greeting cards to other sub-groups.
Using it in problem-solving
- A problem is put on view and deliberated by the sub-group members.
- Participants use the images on their cards to generate ideas to decipher the problem
- Time permitting, each sub-group passes its cards to the next sub-group and repeats step 2. This can be done several times if necessary.
- All the ideas are gathered and appraised in any appropriate way.
- It is essential participants are not aware the nature of the problem prior to the problem solving session. If participants feel uneasy about the ‘childish’ activity of making greetings cards, portray it as ‘assembling stimulus objects’.