Creativity Techniques

Here is a sampling of techniques for stimulating creativity in individuals and groups.

Attribute listing: List the attributes of an object, such as a screwdriver. Then modify each attribute, such as replacing the wooden handle with plastic, providing torque power, adding different screw heads, and so on.

Forced relationships: Lists several ideas and consider each one in relation to each other one. In designing new office furniture for example, consider a desk, bookcase, and filling cabinet as separate ideas. One can then imagine a desk with a built in bookcase or a desk with built in files or a, bookcase with built in files.

Morphological analysis: Start with a problem such as “getting something from one place to another via a powered vehicle.” Now think of dimensions, such as the type of platform (cart, chair, sling, bed), the medium (air, water, oil, rails), and the power source (compressed air, electric motor, magnetic fields). By listing every possible combination, one can generate many new solutions.

Reverse assumption analysis: List all the normal assumptions about an entity and then reverse them. Instead of assuming that a restaurant has menus, charges for food, and serves food, reverse each assumption. The new restaurant may decide to serve only what the chef bought that morning and cooked; may provide some food and charge only for how long the persons sits at the table; and may design an exotic atmosphere ad rent out the space to people who bring their own food and beverages.

New contexts: Take familiar processes, such as people helping services, and put them into a new context. Imagine helping dogs and cats instead of people with day care service, stress reduction, psychotherapy, animal funerals, and so on. As another example, instead of hotel guests going to the front desk to check in, greet them at curbside and use wireless device to register them.

Mind mapping: Start with a thought such as a car, write it on a piece of paper, then think of the next though that comes up (say Mercedes), link it to car, then think of the next association (Germany) and do this with all associations that comes up with each new word. Perhaps a whole new idea will materialize.

Here are some successful examples:

*Gas station stores = gas stations + food
*Cyber cafes = cafeteria + Internet
*Cereal bars = cereal + snacking
*Kinder Surprise= candy + toy
*Sony Walkman = audio + portable.

Increasingly, new product ideas arise from lateral marketing that combines two products concepts or ideas to create a new offering.