There are many creativity techniques and tools that can be used to generate new ideas and devise creative solutions to business problems. A small selection appears below:
Reframing the Question
This technique involves asking the question in a different way, so that more options and ideas can be discovered. Very often the question is asked in a ‘narrow’ way, which results in blinkered or restricted thinking. For example we could ask:
“What can we do to ensure that customers enjoy the theatre performance?”
… or we could reframe the question in a broader way:
“What can we do to ensure that our customers have a great evening out?”
Reframing the question in this way will help to generate more ideas about customer service improvements.
The ‘Pre-Mortem’ Exercise
When a project goes wrong, managers will hold a ‘post-mortem’ exercise to analyse why, and to ensure that things go well next time.
A ‘pre-mortem’ exercise takes place before the event and anticipates problems – so that they can be prevented.
This can be perceived as ‘negative thinking’ but on the contrary, it will help ensure a more positive outcome.
[More about the Pre-Mortem technique.]
‘Back to Front’ Thinking
This is a technique that turns a problem ‘upside down’ or ‘back to front’.
For example instead of asking:
“How can we prevent infections in the hospital?”
we ask instead:
“What would we do if we wanted to increase infections in the hospital?”
This ‘opposite’ approach encourages ideas that can then be prevented.
This is one of the more quirky methods and involves suggesting an imaginary (or even impossible) scenario in order to provoke new ideas.
For example, a provocative suggestion that “we should allow competitors free access to our offices and information” could generate useful ideas about security and perhaps even speculation about which aspects of our business competitors would envy or ridicule. Insights generated through considering this provocative imaginary situation can prove very valuable.
Word Association Exercises
There are a number of word association exercises that use random words to generate ideas and insights about a product, service or customer experience. For example random words such as ‘Danger’ or ‘Elephant’ can be used to help generate ideas for a business by asking “How could the product be more like an Elephant?” or “What is the connection between our service and Danger?” Such exercises should start with a focus or objective. Many imaginative ideas can be generated of which some could lead to useful breakthroughs.
David Parrish uses these and several other creativity techniques in his work as a Creativity Consultant. Through his workshops and consultancy assignments, David helps clients to generate new ideas and devise creative solutions to business problems.