How to introduce divergent thinking for new ideas ala 2010

When I was learning about creativity 30 years ago divergent thinking was introduced through an exercise.

First, Alex Osborn’s rules for brainstorming were introduced:

  • Defer Judgment
  • Quantity Breeds Quality
  • Combine Ideas
  • Freewheel (go for wild ideas)

(Over the years I’ve added a few more to help clients behave in ways that support idea generating with people of many different personality styles, and they work very well. I’ve got a great half-day introduction workshop for the Idea Generating Readiness program that includes these and the research to support.)

Second, we’d be given a challenge to use these on.  The one I recall is, List as many alternative uses and or improvements on a paperclip, or a brick.

We had a hoot, and we’d get stuck after a while, not able to generate any more ideas.  Stumped, embarrassed. Not uncommon for people in search of new ideas, needing to stretch their thinking beyond offering up ‘pat’ answers.

So, techniques were introduced for the purpose of cracking open new thinking.  SCAMPER was the first. The letters of SCAMPER each represent an action, again, sourced from Alex Osborn’s work in Applied Imagination, from the 1950’s.

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Magnify, Minify, Modify
  • Put to Other Uses
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse, Rearrange

And we’d go wild with new thinking when we used this approach.  My favourite idea for the paperclip challenge was to make it a racetrack for a flea (that’s an example of minify).

Today Mashable released a series of photos of  jewelery for geeks.  Couldn’t not connect it to those days a generation ago when we used technology as the stimulus to learn idea generating behaviours and thinking.

Ready for more examples of minify together with put to other uses?  Yup, there’s no end to human ingenuity, using what already exists and making into something it isn’t intended to be.  Easy to do when you’ve got the tools to use to generate new ideas and make new decisions to create exciting new futures.