Litemind (hosted by Luciano Passuello, a bright mind indeed) is about exploring ways to use our minds efficiently. This translates to a wide variety of topics such as creativity, problem-solving, visual thinking, self-mastery and more. His blog cites a post about the Phoenix Checklist Creative Method developed by the CIA – worth repeating and worth reading, no doubt:

THE PROBLEM.

– why is it necessary to solve the problem?

– what benefits will you gain by solving the problem?

– what is the unknown?

– what is it you don’t understand?

– what is the information you have?

– what isn’t the problem?

– is the information sufficient? or is it insufficient? or redundant? or contradictory?

– should you draw a diagram of the problem?

– where are the boundaries of the problem?

– can you separate the various parts of the problem? can you write them down? what are the relationships of the parts of the problem?

– what are the constants (things that can’t be changed) of the problem?

– have you seen this problem before?

– have you seen this problem in a slightly different form?

– do you know a related problem?

– try to think of a familiar problem having the same or similar unknown

– suppose you find a problem related to yours that has already been solved. can you see it? can you use it’s method?

– can you restate your problem? how many different ways can you restated it? more general? more specific? can the rules be changed?

– what are the best, worst and most probable cases can you imagine?

THE PLAN.

– can you solve the whole problem? part of the problem?

– what would you like the resolution to be? can you picture it?

– how much of the unknown can you determine?

– can you derive something useful from the information you have?

– have you used all the information?

– have you taken into account all essential notions in the problem?

– can you separate the steps in the problem solving process? can you determine the correctness of each step?

– what creative thinking techniques can you use to generate ideas? how many?

– can you see the result? how many different kinds of results can you see?

– how many different ways have you tried to solve the problem?

– what have others done?

– can you intuit the solution? can you check the result?

– what should be done? how should it be done?

– where should it be done?

– when should it be done?

– who should do it?

– what do you need to do at this time?

– who will be responsible for what?

– can you use this problem to solve some other problem?

– what is the unique set of qualities that makes this problem what it is and none other?

– what milestones can best mark your progress?

– how will you know when you are successful?