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Ways to think outside of the box

Ways to think outside of the box

In creative processes, it can be useful to use different kind of brainstorm techniques to stimulate the thinking process as it does not always come naturally. Brainstorming can be defined as a (group) creativity technique where efforts are made to find a solution for a specific problem by gathering a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members. To me, brainstorming is a fun and energizing process. I use it to generate ideas for blog topics and improve operational processes at work among others.

There are a lot of methods available nowadays, but the basis is always pretty much the same. It is generally some form or derivative of Osborn’s method. Alex Osborn is considered the father of creative thinking as he is one of the first ones to have published a book on it back in 1953. The Osborn method revolves around four general rules.

  1. Go for quantity
  2. Withhold criticism
  3. Welcome wild ideas
  4. Combine and improve ideas

We are all familiar with the post-it method to generate as much ideas as possible, but what if you want to try something new? To get you on your way, here are three of my favourite brainstorm techniques and applications that I use often when facilitating groups, to work with Ashley on the website, or just on my own when I feel like I am in a rut.

Generating a mission statement

Formulating a mission statement for your company, community or life in general is quite the challenge. But there is a little trick to get your mind in the right state to generate one. Take a piece of paper and do short exercise while you’re reading this, take no longer than one minute for each of the questions.

  • What is your favourite musician? Write down in one word WHY.
  • What is your favourite invention of the last 50 years? Write down in one word WHY.
  • What crime would you commit if you could get away with it? Write down in one word WHY.

Now, within a very short time frame you have discovered WHY you admire, appreciate and enjoy about your personal favourites. Combine these three words into a full sentence to formulate your mission statement. I have used this method the other day with a group when we were asked to generate a mission statement for a certain community.

Lean out the waste of a process

When improving a certain process, it can be useful to identify the parts that can be considered waste in LEAN. The LEAN philosophy considers seven forms of waste:

  1. What errors can be identified in the process?
  2. In what part of the process are people waiting for the next step?
  3. How can I make smarter use of transportation?
  4. What unnecessary human motion can be identified in the process?
  5. Is everything in my inventory really required, is it required to produce everything right now or can it wait?
  6. What is the minimum viable product?

This method is one that is particularly effective in a professional work environment when improving company processes for example. Curious on how to apply LEAN in your personal life? We’ve elaborated on that, here. 2016/9/6/five-ways-to-apply-lean-to-your-personal-life

Go off on the wrong foot

After a while, even brainstorming gets old. To disrupt this pattern, try going off on the wrong foot. Instead of thinking about positive outcomes, try and think of as many ways possible to ruin your project. Examples questions are:

  • What can we do finish the project as slow as possible?
  • What can we do to make the project as expensive as possible?
  • What can I do to make this possible the biggest pain in the ass?

Feels like such a relief, right? Now after going on like this for about 30 minutes, try and look at your disastrous ideas and turn them around. Use the negative scenario’s as your inspiration to perform and succeed.

Now, do share with us in the comments; are you going to give these techniques a try next time you’re stuck? and what are your favourite ways to make yourself (and others) think outside of the box?

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Monthly ROARs - MAY 2017

Monthly ROARs - MAY 2017