Saturday, August 06, 2005

A systematic method for forming lateral thinking provocations

About this post

Technique used for: forming thought-experiments, lateral thinking provocations.

Technique in a nutshell: You take a simple fact (example: cinemas show films) and imagine there was a time when that idea was actually created and considered to be a good idea. You then ask what was before that. So, with the cinema example you could conclude that cinemas showed TV programmes, play music etc (before they showed films), and thus 'cinemas show TV programmes' becomes a thought experiment (or provocation).

Forming lateral thinking provocations and thought experiments

I've been toying with this approach to form lateral thinking provocations. It's also a possible way to use the escape method.

I start by finding a subject and then naming a fact about it. So, with the subject 'wedding' I list a simple fact:

A wedding has a couple

Then I pretend there was a time when this was actually an idea (maybe even a eureka! moment for somebody) maybe worded as:

Wouldn't it be a good idea if weddings had a couple?

and then consider what was pre-idea: that is, the situation that existed before the 'great' idea. Maybe:

A wedding has one person

and that is the provocation.

More examples

Fact: A wedding occurs in a church. Pre-idea/provocation = A wedding occurs anywhere you want

Fact: A wedding has vows. Pre-idea/provocation = A wedding is silent

Fact: A wedding has people. Pre-idea/provocation = nobody goes to a wedding

No comments: