About this post
Technique in a nutshell: when you want to create a list of people, colour/texture the action of naming by using adjectival phrases or words.
Example: Name a party person
It can help to generate a list of disparate people to help with creativity; considering the fantasy input of others - both real people and fictional people - can provide interesting perspectives on creative effort or problem solving. The lists can also be used to help kick-start creativity at the blank page stage.
I can start out with a simple directive such as:
Name a person
And name a few people. But to add colour to the naming I can select a random word (from a dictionary, directed free association results or wordcount.org) and use it adjectivally. With a random word such as 'code' I get the directive:
Name a code person
and I can name as many people as possible - perhaps working to a quota of five or any other number:
1) Alan Turing
2) Dan Brown
3) Mona Lisa (Mona Lisa is an anagram of 'I also man' - some consider that the Mona Lisa is a depiction of Leonardo da Vinci as a woman)
4) Samuel Morse
5) Samuel Pepys
I can opt to use two adjectival words instead of one to further colour the naming (and add extra challenge!). So with the random words 'eye' and 'death' I create the directive:
Name an eye death person
and list five people. NB: I always try to complete five namings, even if some of them are a bit of a cheat or a slight interpretation on the meaning of the adjectival words.
1) King Harold
2) Peter Cook
3) Peter Falk
4) The Grim Reaper (A cheat: he eyes dead people)
5) Evil Knievel
Using the lists
Once I have built up a sizeable list of people I can use it for creative thinking.
If I am at the blank-page stage wondering 'what can I create?' then the following question can kick-start my thinking:
What would X invent?
and I consider what any person from the list would invent. Perhaps:
King Harold: a suit of armour to protect the eyes
Alan Turing: ways for a computer to improve its performance in the Turing Test.
Peter Falk: clever tricks that Columbo can use to catch out killers
I can also track (or guess-track) a person throughout their life and ask the question:
What did X invent/create throughout their life?
and consider any ideas they may have created throughout the various stages of their life.