Which are the best tools for provoking the imagination?
New creative links can be made by drawing new comparisons or building metaphors.
Random word pairs can be useful, especially if focused around project keywords. This can help refocus a project or even stimulate new ideas. Try writing a topic statement, e.g.
“We want to develop a reception space that promotes our values and is pleasing to customers.”
develop, reception, space, promotes, values, pleasing, customers
Random word pairs:
From these random pairs, we can ruminate on their new meanings. “Space-customers” might spark a conversation about where customers sit, and how much space they have, for instance.
To get even more food for thought, try listing synonyms for keywords.
You could also choose verbs, nouns, prepositions and conjunctions that fit with your project.
Returning to the reception area idea, you might choose:
Relax, greet, inspire (verbs)
Around, in, between (prepositions)
Plants, colour, invention (nouns)
Random word selection from a text can also be useful. Ask a person to choose a book, without looking. Person 2 chooses the page number from a given range. Person 3 selects the paragraph or line of text. The facilitator chooses the first verb or noun from that line or paragraph, e.g. “waterfall”. Discussion then starts on how our topic (the reception area) is like a waterfall.
For these activities, you might want to set a time limit. You might also ask small groups to consider different analogies and then feed back to the group.
During this kind of thinking the sheer quantity of connections is more important than quality. We are seeking to be creative by accident in the hope that serendipity will guide us to new perspectives. Therefore, criticism and saying ‘no’ are not allowed during this phase. Evaluating ideas at this stage will close too many doors too soon. Instead, look to create, combine and improve ideas.
A separate phase for analysis of ideas can follow afterwards.
Try these techniques when you really want to open up the way forward. They are a great way to get everyone involved. Metaphorical thinking is limitless.