Friday, April 22, 2005

A nice little strategy for making up ideas

I've been using this nice little strategy for making up ideas. There are three stages.

Stage one: finding an object for focus of creativity

I start with the directive:

Name an X-object

I will use the pangram trigger or directed-free-association to find the 'X'. In this case I choose 'red' and thus the directive reads:

Name a red object

I choose 'post box'.

Stage two: choosing an aspect of the object and cloning

I choose an aspect of a typical postbox and clone that aspect. I choose the slot (where the letter is posted). So I visualise a post box with hundreds of slots. (As explained in cloning aspects, I don't worry about functionality problems; in fact the new multi-slotted postbox concept could be treated as a lateral thinking provocation.)

Stage three: creating ideas

I use pre-listing to create ideas. This is done by creating X-versions of the post box slot. The directive is:

Create X-version of the post box slot.

Using pangram trigger, I create the random word 'call', resulting in:

call-version of post box slot

and consider what ideas this suggest.

This led to an interesting idea: 'a postbox you call with your mobile phone'. This would be useful for posting letters when you have no stamps: you would call a number on the postbox with your mobile and the slot would open when called. The postage costs would be paid for with the cost of the mobile call.

Further points

At the first stage - the 'name X object' stage I will try to list at least five objects from the directive. So 'red object' could lead to: post box, Liverpool shirt, post van, no-entry sign, my rubbish bin etc.

At stage two - the cloning aspects - I will sometimes pre-list again to choose what aspect to clone. The post box example could have led to:

Name X-aspect of post box

And, as an example:

pot-aspect of post box

could suggest that the basket inside the post box (where the letters rest) could be the aspect chosen for cloning.

At stage three - X-versions - I will always make sure I complete an idea and guarantee newness - even if the final idea is quite weak. This takes off the pressure to come up with a good idea every time. Quantity should lead to quality.

Another approach I use at stage three is to imagine that each of the cloned aspects has a sign above it with the random word as the title of the sign. So with the post box example, I would imagine a slot with a sign above it saying "Call slot". Then I have to think of a purpose or function that the sign suggests.

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