Applying your senses to your subject gets you thinking about the problem in different dimensions.  Consider the sense of sight. Pictures, photographs and illustrations are excellent sources of unrelated stimuli. Years back, a designer, working to invent a new light fixture, leafed through an issue of National Geographic and got his inspiration for a new idea from a picture of a monkey. He imagined a monkey running around a home with a light wherever it was needed. This image led to the invention of track lighting. The guidelines are:

1. Browse through newspapers and magazines. Select two or three interesting pictures at random.

2. Describe one of the pictures in detail. List descriptors. Include physical references and action-oriented statements. List everything that comes to mind (imagery, feelings, words, phrases, etc.). If you think of absurd material, list that too.

3. Force connections between each descriptor and your challenge.

4. List your ideas.

The CEO of a Japanese perfume company asked his executives for ideas that would enable the company to survive poor economic times. Disappointed with their suggestions, he gave each of them a picture of a king crab and instructed them to study it and to look for ideas from the crab they could apply to their business.

                                            Some of their connections and ideas were:

“A crab can rejuvenate lost claws”– we must develop back-up product lines in case our primary line falters.

“A crab can see 360 degrees”–we must improve our market intelligence.

“A crab moves slowly”–we cannot afford this. We must downsize so we can react more speedily to the market.

“A crab has distinct features.”–we need to develop a distinctive package that differentiates our perfume more clearly.

“A crab is a scavenger”–we need to allocate resources to see what other uses and markets we can find for our products.

PICTURE PORTFOLIOS. Use picture portfolios to stimulate discussion and ideas in group brainstorming sessions. Following are guidelines:

1. Read aloud a problem statement and ask the group to verbally brainstorm solutions.

2. Give each group member a folder containing eight to ten pictures that are not related to the problem area.

3. Instruct the group members to examine each picture and silently write down any new ideas or modifications of previous ideas suggested by the pictures.

4. After a designated period, ask the group members to read their ideas aloud.

5. As each idea is read, ask the group members to discuss it and try to develop new ideas or modifications. Record all new ideas as they are suggested.

6. Collect and evaluate.

An interesting twist is to provide participants with instant film cameras and ask them to take a stroll and photograph interesting objects and scenes. Use them as prompts. A group of managers from various departments met to seek better ways to mesh functions. One of their photographs showed birds looking at a pond of goldfish. To some it seemed that the birds were trying to communicate with the fish who could not hear them. As they discussed the photo, they realized they saw themselves as the unheard birds. Marketers felt that the researchers were preoccupied with scientific rather than commercial matters; while researchers felt that marketing was deaf to new technical insights. The result was that teams of marketers and researchers now meet quarterly to learn how to talk to each other.

CHILDREN’S DRAWINGS. The great landscape artist J.M.W. Turner used an unusual technique to stimulate his imagination. Whenever he visited friends who had young children, he would give them watercolors and paper to make drawings. Sometimes he would suggest a general theme, and other times he would let them draw anything they wanted. The results were original and spontaneous expressions of primary consciousness. Turner would then take the drawings, observe them with an open mind, and create his own visual impressions from the children.’s work, in much the same way Leonardo Da Vinci imagined faces and scenes among stains on the wall. Turner would use these visual impressions to inspire his imagination to create new perspectives for the familiar landscape.

If you or your friends have young children, try Turner’s technique. Provide them drawing materials and ask them to make drawings. You could suggest a general theme. For example, if your problem is how to organize your company more effectively, you might suggest that they make drawings of people at work; or if you’re worried about your job security, ask them to make drawings of people in danger. Or, let them draw anything they want. Take the drawings and observe the images, patterns, and colors with an open mind. Then force connections between the images and your subject.


THINKERTOYS changed by life.

I am the creator of a mobile game called “Color Switch;” this game has gone on to be downloaded almost 140,000,000 times all over the world. I make video games full time and have traveled the world because of video games. I used Slice and Dice and SCAMPER from “Thinkertoys” to generate all my game ideas including “Color Switch.” This $12 book changed my life. To change your thinking is to change your life, after all. If you apply the techniques in this book every day, you will eventually improve your thinking to the point you’ve reached your goals. There is no 100% guarantee, but you are improving the likelihood of this happening by applying what is in this book. I cannot say enough about this book. Anyone who gives it less than five stars just does not understand the potential power inside of this book.

D. Reichelt

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