Got a problem, situation or challenge that you need ideas for? Here’s a simple process for getting 20+ ideas that requires nothing more than two sheets of A4 paper (you can choose for yourself whether they’re lined or not).
If you don’t already have a question for your situation, write down on one of the sheets a clear question about what you need ideas for. Read it aloud to make sure you’re happy with it. Put this to one side.
Find the nearest book. Open it to a random page and point to a word on the left hand page. So long as this word is a verb, noun or adjective write it down on your second sheet of paper. (flip to a different page if you land on “the” “a” “her” or any other kind of preposition). Underline this word.
Consider this randomly selected word and list beneath it as many associations as you can to this word. Take at least three minutes. If you start to slow down keep going. Push yourself!
Bring back your first sheet with your question on. Use your list of associations, one-by-one, as inspiration for answers – ideas – to that question. As with Step 3, push yourself if you need to: thoughts may come quite quickly for some words and not for others. Your mind is a pattern-making system, and will try to fill in gaps. Don’t dismiss any idea.
From start to finish, this might take up to twenty minutes, and a reasonable expectation is to have twenty or more ideas by that point. Then the hard part begins: reviewing and selecting ideas that you want to take forwards!
Want to see an example?
A real example!
OK, I’m currently trying to think of Christmas present ideas for Mrs Ryder, and am floundering a little, having already picked up a few things that I know she might like.
Step 1: A clear question! What could I get my wife for Christmas?
Step 2: Finding a word! The nearest book to me was “Playing at the World” and I flipped it open to page 184 and pointed at the word “enchanted”.
Step 3: Associations! In around four minutes I got 21, and that was enough for me to stop.
Step 4: Ideas! Here they all are; some came easier than others, some had a chain of inspiration. All told it took just over twelve minutes for this stage.
And I think a couple of these are worth investigating… Hmmm…!
If you try this method, which is inspired by concepts I’ve seen in work of Edward de Bono, then let me know! Did it work for you? How many ideas did you get? Share some pictures of what you did!
Thanks for reading!