Power of your imagination. You can change the direction the spinning dancer in the illustration above from clockwise to counterclockwise simply by concentrating and willing it.

Following are tips to help you activate your imagination and make your thinking more dynamic.

  • Take a walk around your neighborhood and look for something interesting.
  • Make metaphorical-analogical connections between that something interesting and your problem.
  • Open a dictionary and randomly point to a noun. Use it in a sentence. Force connections between the word and your problem.
  • State your challenge as a question “In what ways might I………..? Then restate it 5 different times using different verbs.
  • How is an iceberg like an idea that might help you solve your problem?
  • Tape record your ideas on your commute to and from work.
  • Keep a log of your ideas, intuitions and dreams. At the end of the week review your log. Any new insights?
  • Create a prayer asking for specific help with your problem. What is it that you still need to understand?
  • Spend 1 hour daily totally immersing yourself in the subject matter.
  • Read a different newspaper. If you read the Wall Street Journal, read the Washington Post.
  • What else is like the problem? What other ideas does it suggest?
  • What or who can you copy?
  • Create the most bizarre idea you can? Try to imagineer it into a realistic solution
  • List all the things that bug you about the problem.
  • Take a different route to work.
  • Make up and sing a song about the problem while taking a shower.
  • Listen to a different radio station each day. Listen for a message.
  • Ask the most creative person you know.
  • Ask five people how they would improve your ideas.
  • What is the essence of the problem? Can you find parallel examples of the essence in other worlds? Do they create patterns that inspire any new thoughts.
  • Take up doodling as a daily practice. Brilliant ideas often start as a scribble on a cocktail napkin or envelope.
  • Go for a drive with the windows open. Listen and smell as you drive. Think about what it is you still don’t understand about the problem.
  • Combine your ideas?
  • Learn and use the creative thinking techniques creative geniuses have used throughout history.
  • Create an idea piggy bank and deposit three ideas daily.
  • Give yourself an idea quota of 40 ideas when brainstorming.
  • How many of the ideas can you combine with each other?
  • Can you substitute something?
  • Which of two objects, a salt shaker or a bottle of ketchup, best represents your problem? Why?
  • What can you add?
  • What one word represents the problem?
  • Draw an abstract symbol that best represents the problem.
  • Think of a two-word book title that best represents the problem.
  • Write a table of contents for a book about the problem.
  • Can you think of other uses for any of your ideas?
  • What is the opposite of your idea?
  • Think paradoxically. Imagine your idea and its opposite existing simultaneously.
  • Look in other domains. If your problem is selling, ask how do politicians sell? How do sports networks sell? How do religions sell? How do fast-food franchises sell?
  • Laugh more. Be more childlike in your work.
  • Think out loud. Verbalize your thinking out loud about the problem.
  • List 20 objects into two columns of 10. Randomly connect objects from column 1 to column 2 to see what new products develop.
  • How would Walt Disney approach the problem?
  • Write the alphabet backwards.
  • How would a college professor perceive it?
  • How would an artist perceive it? A risk-taking entrepreneur? A priest?
  • Imagine you are at a nudist beach in Tahiti. How could talking with nudists help you with the problem?
  • Can you find the ideas you need hidden in the clouds?
  • Learn how to tolerate ambiguity and dwell in the grey zone.
  • Make three parallel lists of ten words. The first list is nouns. The second list if verbs and the third adjectives. Then look for intriguing connections between them.
  • Make the strange familiar. What would a fantasy solution look like? Does this give you any clues?
  • What if you were the richest person on earth? How will the money help you solve the problem?
  • If you could have three wishes to help you solve the problem, what would they be?
  • Wear purple underwear for inspiration
  • Write a letter to your subconscious mind about the problem. Ask your subconscious to solve the problem. Then mail the letter to yourself.
  • How would Donald Trump solve the problem?
  • Forget the problem. Incubate it. Come back to it in three days. Stay conscious of any new thoughts that pop up during this down time.
  • Look at the problem from at least three different perspectives.
  • Imagine the problem is solved. Work backwards from the solution to where you are now.
  • How would the problem be solved 100 years from now.
  • Think about it before you go to sleep.
  • When you wake, write down everything you can remember about your dreams. Next, try to make metaphorical-analogical connections between your dreams and the problem.
  • Imagine you are on national television. Explain the problem and your ideas on how to solve the problem.
  • What one object or thing best symbolizes the problem? Keep the object on your desk to constantly remind you about the problem.
  • List all the words that come to mind while thinking about the problem. Are there any themes? Interesting words? Connections? Surprises?
  • What if ants could help you solve the problem? What are the parallels between ants and humans that can help?
  • Create a silly way to walk that physically represents your problem.
  • Talk to a stranger about the problem.
  • Keep a written record of all your ideas. Review them weekly. Can you cross-fertilize your ideas?
  • How would an Olympic gold medal winner approach the problem?
  • Read a poem and relate it to the problem. What new thoughts does the poem inspire?
  • What associations can you make between your problem and an oil spill?
  • If your problem were a garden, what would be the weeds.
  • Change your daily routines. If you drink coffee, change to tea.
  • List your assumptions about the problem and then reverse them. Can you make the reversals into new ideas?
  • Describe your problem metaphorically. How is your problem like a half-eaten frozen pizza?
  • Draw the problem with your eyes closed.
  • Create a dance that represents your problem.
  • Mind map your problem.
  • Become a dreamer and create fantasies that will solve the problem.
  • Become a realist and imaginer your fantasies into workable ideas.
  • Complete “How can I _____?” Then change the verb five different times.
  • Can you intuit the solution?
  • Open a magazine and free associate off the photos.
  • What have you learned from your failures? What have you discovered that you didn’t set out to discover?
  • Make connections between subjects in different domains. Banking + cars = drive in banking.
  • Immerse yourself in the problem. Imagine you are the problem. What would you feel? What are your hopes and fears?
  • What are the parallels between your problem and the Gulf war.
  • Hang out with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Create a funny story out of the problem. If you can, make it into a joke.
  • Make analogies between your problem and nature.
  • Imagine you are a member of the opposite sex out on a date. You are having a conversation about problems. How do you describe the problem to your date seductively?
  • Force yourself to constantly smile when you are brainstorming.
  • Select a book that is not related to your subject. Skim through the book looking for thoughts and ideas you can cross-fertilize with your problem.
  • Sit outside and count the stars. Make all the associations you can between what you see in the sky and the problem.
  • Walk through a grocery store and metaphorically connect what you see with the problem. How is the way meat is displayed like an idea I can use to solve my problem.
  • How would you explain the problem to a six year old child?
  • Cut out interesting magazine and newspaper pictures. Then arrange and paste them on a board making a collage that represents the problem.
  • Write a six word book that describes your progress on the problem. E.g. “At present all thoughts are gray,” “I am still not seeing everything.”
  • What is impossible to do in your business but if it were possible would change the nature of your problem forever?
  • Suppose you could have Leonardo da Vinci work with you on the problem. What would you ask him?


Michael Michalko is a highly acclaimed creativity expert. To learn about him visit: https://imagineer7.wordpress.com/about-michael-michalko/

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