Saturday, October 27, 2007

Flip-flop Technique for Creating Ideas and Fresh, Relevant Brainstorming Challenges

This flip-flop technique can quickly generate a list of ideas and fresh, relevant brainstorm challenges. There are three key stages:

1) I create (or find an existing) brainstorm challenge
2) I create an idea for that challenge
3) (The most important stage) I create a hindsight-brainstorm: that is, I look at the idea created at stage 2 and ask "If a brainstorm challenge had created this idea, what could that brainstorm challenge have been? How would it have been worded?"


Say, for example, I am the boss of a pizza shop and I want to improve my business. I can set the brainstorm challenge:

How can I improve my pizza shop?

It's not too difficult to create an idea for this. Maybe:

Have a varied menu

Now for the hindsight-brainstorm: I ask myself: What brainstorm challenge could've created that idea? Maybe:

How can I attract customers?

The cycle continues and for this I create the idea:

Provide small samples of pizzas

Hindsight-brainstorm: What brainstorm could have created this idea? Maybe:

How can I get people to try my pizzas?

Idea: Go to local sporting events and open a stall with samples

Hindsight-brainstorm: How can I use local sporting events to attract customers?

Idea: Put advertising posters at local sports grounds

Hindsight-brainstorm: How can I use local sports grounds to promote my pizzas?

Idea: Offer a catering service for events/functions held at the sports ground

Problems and possibilities

Problem: Can't think of any ideas?

If my brainstorm challenge is:

How can I make my pizza menu interesting?

and I can't think of any ideas, I can simply ask the question: In what ways is the pizza menu already interesting? One possibility could be:

It has lots of striking colours

which expressed as an idea reads:

Add lots of colour to make the menu more appealing

From this point I can either build on that idea and increase the degree (add yet more colours (maybe to appeal to children?) to the menu) or create a hindsight-brainstorm such as:

What would make my menus more appealing?

Problem: Can't create a hindsight-brainstorm?

If I'm struggling to think of a hindsight-brainstorm for any idea, I can choose one of Kipling's six honest serving men -- what, who, when, where, why, how (here's a mnemonic) -- and pick one random word from the idea to see if I can combine the two to construct a hindsight-brainstorm challenge.

For example, if my idea is:

Provide small samples of pizzas

My hindsight-brainstorms could be (among many options)

(What & pizza) = what can I do with pizzas to attract new customers?
(Who can't create a hindsight-brainstorm for this idea)
(When doesn't work)
(Where doesn't work)
(Why & pizza) = why would I cut a pizza into small pieces?
(How & small) = how can I give customers a sample or "small taste" of my products?

Possibility: Keeping one challenge or idea

Of course, at any stage I can decide to keep using one hindsight-brainstorm challenge and continue creating ideas. If the brainstorm is: How can I use local sporting events to attract customers? My ideas could include:

Sponsor a local sporting event
Start a new sports event -- the "pizza shop cup"!
Put advertising at local sports events
Offer discounts to sports fans who can provide a ticket from the sports event

And I can create multiple hindsight-brainstorms from one idea. If my idea is: attract passers-by by putting special offers in the window, my hindsight-brainstorms could include:

Where can I advertise special offers?
Who would be attracted by special offers in the window?
How can I target passers-by?
Why would I be putting something in the window?


I started this game/exercise in BrainReactions' Brainstorming Tool :

Flip-Flop Brainstorming Challenges/Ideas: How Can I Improve My Creativity?

Will be interesting to see how it pans out!

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