If you define the problem correctly, you almost have the solution.

Steve Jobs (1955–2011)
Business Magnate and Industrial Designer

The SIL method, German acronym for ‘Systematische Integration von Lösungselementen’ (Systematic Integration of Solution Elements) takes the best element of several solutions and puts them together to find the most suitable solution. It is a creativity technique for new ideas, names, processes, products, etc.

Process of SIL method

Step 1: Define the Challenge

The exact definition of the challenge is the half way to its solution. The better you formulate your question or task, the more suitable solutions will be created. Thus, take your time. Or to say with Albert Einstein:

If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.

Albert Einstein

Step 2: Elaboration of Solutions

Once the task is clear each participant works on his or her own solution. As an alternative you can make it a group discussion right away or assign working groups. In big groups, however, there is the risk that good ideas might get killed right away – due to early judgement or self-censorship.

Step 3: Presentation and Discussion

The characteristic of a solution is then discussed in the group. What are the especially innovative or intriguing elements in this idea? These are written up on a board. The same step is repeated for all participants. In the end, you’ll have a board full of the intriguing characteristics of solutions.

Step 4: Combining the Elements

Now, you combine the various characteristics to find a new solution. At the end you will have wonderful combinations — and most likely the best possible solution.

The SIL method takes a little while, about two to three hours, and is not suitable for large groups. In this case, you could divide the participants into teams. in order not get too confusing. On the other hand, to ensure a reasonable number of characteristics and thus combinations teams should consist of around six people.

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