Creative Thinking Techniques Don’t Have to Be Used in Isolation
If you have read anything about idea generation you may have learned a few Creative Thinking Techniques. This starts to make ideas on demand (like an Uber) more possible, but something is missing, something which we don’t seem to be taught. We tend to see each creative technique in isolation and instead, we should be viewing it more like a slalom.
Imagine your search for ideas starts at the top of a mountain and at the bottom is an avalanche of ideas just waiting for you. In order to get to the bottom, you have to weave in and out a series of creative thinking techniques.
The first pole might be mind mapping, then you could take one of the ideas you generate from that and move on to the next pole ie. The Random Image Technique. You then continue the slalom and either revisit the mind mapping technique (you could use this to break down the Random image into its components) or move on to another creative technique such as brainwriting/freewriting,
Each time you weave the ideas you previously generated with the new technique and each builds on the last.
Let me give you an example – Let’s assume you’re good at playing the guitar (I’ve tried and I’m not) and you decide you could make some money by giving guitar lessons. Start at the top of the Mountain, and first before doing anything else you might try –
Reframing the Problem
Reframing a problem means stating the problem in different ways which can open your eyes to new possibilities
You could instead ask
How could I make money from music?
How could I make money by playing the guitar?
How could I make money from my guitar?
By writing the question in different ways it might open up different lines of thought, than just making money giving guitar lessons.
Then take your reframed questions and mindmap them.
Start with a central word or phrase and then branch off with associated words
So if you took:
How could I make money from my guitar? We could associate “money” with “rent” and think about a guitar rental service, or become an affiliate for a guitar manufacturer.
Then you could take some of the ideas from the mindmap and introduce the random image technique.
The Random Image Technique
Look at a random image and see how it could relate back to your problem or idea. If you struggle to weave back to mind mapping and mind map out all the elements of the image before you start.
Imagine you had a random picture of a woodland scene you could mind map this into its component parts – trees, stream, blue sky, nature etc etc. Then thinking back to rent from the previous mind map this could lead you to the idea of renting a house in the woods for a guitar nature retreat.
You can develop a few ideas of these further by using another technique such as brainwriting/freewriting.
Freewriting (also known as brainwriting) is a technique whereby you set a timer for a set amount of time eg. Ten minutes and then you write continuously on a topic without stopping. If you get stuck and can’t think what to write just repeat yourself or write anything that comes into your head. The theory is that this allows the subconscious to take over and stops your sensible brain from censoring your thoughts.
Using the guitar example (from the random image technique) you could take the idea of a guitar nature retreat and write on the topic for ten minutes and see what new ideas emerge. If you wanted you could then run any new ideas back through any of the previous creative techniques or try a new one.