I have a fascination with inventors having helped many develop their ideas for over 7 years. To me they represent some of the most creative thinkers in the world. In this post I’m going to give you creative thinking techniques that can make you more inventive.
Questions are one of the most powerful creative thinking tools I know of. Creativity is about linking objects together in a way they have never been linked before. An excellent example of this is the iPopper (I love this idea!). Asking intelligent questions sends instructions to our brain to start making new connections and look at old connections in new ways. Make a habit of asking such questions and we start to change our mindsets and eventually our behaviour.
Some questions for you to ask:
- How can this be made better?
- What is wrong with this?
- How else could this be done?
- How could this be made more efficient
- What is it about this that is really irritating?
- What really frustrates people about this?
- What could this be combined with?
- What other applications could this have?
- How could this be made faster
- How could this be made smaller?
- How could this be made suitable for a particular group?
- How could this be simplified?
- Is a deluxe version possible?
- Could a home version work?
- What are the negative things about this?
- What is currently missing from this?
- How could the principles this operates on be transferred to XX
- What are the weaknesses of this?
What other questions could you ask that will increase your inventiveness ten fold?. Some of the above questions will most likely be familiar to you. Focus on those that aren’t.
The Missing Link
The inventors I have work with like this technique. You start with a product or a problem and then a blank space then a potential customer or result that you want. It works better if you get someone else to select products and customers for you.
Here’s how it works:
Mobile phones___________________Over 70s
You now need to make the link between mobile phones and over 70s. That link needs to be a new product or service. The most obvious example would be a mobile phone designed for OAPs. Would this work? Who knows and right now I don’t care the whole point is to have a little fun and warm your brain up. At the same time you are conditioning your brain to make new connections faster and more easily. This technique is really good for sorting out problems you may be having with a current invention. First word would be the problem then a blank then the required result. Limit yourself to no more than two words per part – this really forces you to focus on the actual problem. Displaying things in this way that really helps the brain work things out.
The third and last technique I want to look at is called negative thinking. People have come up with new ideas (especially for products) using this technique. I worked with some guys from India for a whole day using this technique on a ballpoint pen. By the end of the day they’d completely redesigned the pen, and come up with other viable products.
For this technique to work you need a product or service to focus on. If you have a mobile phone put it infront of you. Whether you like it or not I want you to whip up feelings of anger, frustration and even disgust at it.
What s wrong with it in terms of:
Shape, Smell, Availability, Popularity, Lifetime, Ease of use, Feeling, Effectiveness, Extra’s
Colour, Sound, Cost, Aftercare, Size, Speed, Weight, Duration, Number of applications
The Aim of these Techniques
The aim of these techniques is not necessarily to come up with a new invention but to increase your inventiveness by shifting your mindset slightly and developing a different view of the world. Use them and have fun. Many of you will already use these sorts of techniques without realising it. Using them in a more habitual way will massively increase your inventiveness.
Joseph Benn is author of Brilliant Business Ideas. He is passionate about creative thinking and how it can be used practically. He writes a blog www.ideasmapping.com and offers a free 10 day creative thinking course.