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FIP lesson plan

5. FIP lesson plan

FIP: First Important Priorities 

This lesson plan is for the FIP lesson workcard.


In most of the other lessons, the effort has been directed towards generating as many ideas as possible: as wide a PMI as possible; as many factors as possible for a CAF; as comprehensive a C&S as possible; all the different objectives, etc. FIP is a crystallization of the process of picking out the most important ideas, factors, objectives, consequences, etc. Obviously some of these ideas are more important than others. The purpose of FIP is to restore the balance in a deliberate manner.


If you try to pick out only the most important points from the start, you will be able to see only a small part of the picture. But if you start by trying to see as large a picture as possible, then your eventual assessment of importance will be much more valid. This is why the FIP lesson comes late in the series.


Like the PMI, the FIP operation can be used in subsequent lessons or in other subject areas whenever some assessment of importance is required. If students turn up with ideas which are valid as ideas but not of great importance, they can be asked to do a FIP on the situation.

FIP is a judgment situation and there are no absolute answers. What one person believes to be most important another person may place far down the list of priorities. The intention of the lesson is to focus attention directly onto this assessment of importance. Once you can do a FIP, then you are free to generate as many ideas as you like. If you cannot do a FIP, then you are only able to consider ideas that have an obvious importance at first sight -and you may well never get to consider any other ideas at all. 


PRACTICE ITEM 1.  In doing a CAF on choosing a career, you may come up with the following factors: the pay; the chances of improvement or promotion; the people you would be working with; the work environment; the distance you would have to travel to get to work; the interest or enjoyment of the work. If you had to pick out the three top priorities from these factors, which would you choose?

From the list of six factors each group picks out the top three priorities. These need not be given in the order of importance. The outputs can be given verbally by each group in turn. They can also be written down on a piece of paper so that the teacher can compare them and perhaps draw up a "voting" list on board. Time allowed is 3 minutes.

PRACTICE ITEM 2. A father finds that his son has stolen a fishing rod from someone fishing in the canal. In dealing with the boy (aged 10) what should the father’s priorities be?

Each group works on this problem for 4 minutes, at the end of which one group is designated to give its output. Other groups and individuals are then invited to say whether they agree with the designated group. This discussion must, however, be kept brief. 


  • Getting the rod back to the person it belongs to.

  • Pointing out to the boy why stealing is wrong.

  • Trying to make sure it does not happen again.

  • Being very angry.

  • Punishing the boy.

PRACTICE ITEM 3. Do an AGO on buying clothes and then do a FIP on the objectives you find.

Each group does an AGO followed by a FIP. Time allowed is 3 minutes. One group is designated to give all the objectives. Another group then gives its top three priorities. The remaining groups can then disagree with these. 


AGO: to look nice, to be individual, to be in fashion, to keep warm, to spend as little 

money as possible, to compete with someone else. 

FIP: to look nice, to keep warm, to spend as little money as possible. 


Open discussion with the class as a whole, acting as individuals rather than groups.

  • Are priorities natural or should you make a special effort to choose them?

  • Are the priorities always obvious?

  • When is it most useful to find priorities?

  • How do you choose priorities?

Learning points

The groups look at the list of learning points given in the student workcards. They are asked to pick out the principle they think is most important. The groups can also be asked to criticize any one of the principles or to make up a principle of their own. 

These de Bono Thinking Lessons are free to use by parents, guardians and teachers. (This means on this website, or to print and use in home or in the classroom. Not for further distribution or commercial use). 

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