Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A quick method for highlighting general problems

In a nutshell: find a subject. Increase or decrease the degree of a characteristic of the subject. Consider problems that would be caused by that. Use those problems to identify real-world problems.

A quick method for highlighting general problems

There are five stages to this method:

1) Find a subject
2) Identify a characteristic of that subject
3) Increase or decrease the degree of that characteristic
4) Consider what problems would be caused by the change of degree
5) Use that problem to highlight 'normal' problems of the subject

Finding a subject

I find a subject using the method I've used in many posts on this blog: the naming/listing method. For this example I'm going to use the template:

Name X object/thing

where the "X" is provided by a random word. With the random word "super" my template reads:

Name super object

I choose: a Superman outfit available for hire from a fancy dress shop.

Identify a characteristic of the subject

I create a list of adjectives and use an adjective to complete a template such as:

How X is it?

With "creative" as my adjective I now consider:

How creative is the superman outfit?

Well, Superman outfits aren't normally noted for their creativity! Never mind...on to the next stage.

Increase or decrease the degree of the characteristic

I opt to increase the degree of creativity of the Superman outfit. What does this mean? To me this suggests that the wearer of the outfit would become more creative. I can continue increasing the degree of the creativity (perhaps even dipping into thoughts on fiction).

Consider problems caused by the change of degree

With the outfit wearer enjoying undreamed of levels of creativity one problem is obvious...they wouldn't want to give the suit back.

Use that problem to highlight 'normal' problems of the subject

The fantasy problem of the wearer not wanting to give the suit back relates to a real problem: people hiring outfits from the fancy dress shop and returning them late. But I can also look to consider other problems that would be caused: wear-and-tear of the outfit, popularity of the outfit leading to high demand, the shop stocking enough outfits to cater for all sizes etc.

More examples

Object: shower head
Characteristic: blind
Question: How blind is it? As a shower cannot be blind, maybe the blindness could extend to the user of the shower.
Problem(s) caused: shower user wouldn't be able to see control for power and temperature
Real problem: finding a comfortable level for power and temperature.

Object: dog food
Characteristic: furry
Question: how furry is it? Not at all. Make it furrier and furrier.
Problem: dog can't eat food.
Real problems: leftover food. Smell of dog food. Cleaning dirty dog dishes.

Object: fish pond
Question: how picturesque is it? Quite. Make it more picturesque until it's stunningly beautiful.
Problem: theft of plants. High maintenance.
Real problems: theft of garden implements. Herons eating fish. Chore of regularly feeding fish.

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