Creating Creative Concepts
This is your quick guide to how to have more creative concepts
for your business, job, and life in general. You can practice
the following techniques alone, but doing so with others helps
a lot. Brainstorming with a group of creative people for the
first time may make you feel mentally slow, but soon you'll find
that you are coming up with more and more new ideas of your own.
In fact, you'll start to adopt the creative thinking habits of
the other thinkers in the group.
With or without others, though, you have to learn a few techniques
to use for generating creative concepts. Here is one such technique
to get you started.
Making Crazy Assumptions
A few crazy assumptions can lead to not only more creative
concepts, but more useful ones as well. The basic idea is to
make silly or unexpected assumptions related to the subject or
problem you are working on, and then look for a way to make sense
of these. For an example, I will use only ideas that I can come
up with as I write this, in order to show that this process can
really work right now.
I'll start with the following problem: An environmental organization
needs new ways to get volunteers for a series of projects they're
working on. Some crazy assumptions that come to mind: They can
pay them a million dollars to volunteer; they can force people
to participate; aliens will come from outer space to do the work
for them. These are not useful ideas by themselves, but now we
go to work.
The first assumption (pay a million dollars) leads to the
idea for an ad campaign which says, "Want to clean a river
for a million dollars?" It would certainly get attention,
but can we make sense of this thought? Hmm... a wealthy patron
could donate $215,000 for a bond that matures to be worth a million
dollars in thirty years. They could have a drawing to win the
bond in a year, and anyone who volunteers a certain number of
hours is put into a drawing for that "million dollars."
They would get free publicity and many new recruits nationally
The assumption that they could force people to participate
sounds crazy, but what more creative concept can we turn this
into? Think about who is already "forced," or "enslaved,"
like prison inmates. Could they make a deal with local jails
to allow inmates incarcerated for non-violent offenses to volunteer
on the various environmental projects? The inmates might be happy
to get outside, and it could even look good on their record when
it's time for parole.
Now, the idea of aliens from outer space doing the work is
just wacky, but again we just see where it leads. It makes me
think about aliens from other countries, and how they might volunteer.
Could the group get lawyers with immigration law experience to
offer free "immigration workshops" to those who put
in some hours on the groups environmental projects? This could
at least attract those legal immigrants with issues that need
to be resolved. They get the legal help they need, and the good
press they get from volunteering to help the environment might
help their cause.
This was five minutes of mental work, and I have no idea how
useful these ideas would actually be. But you can see how the
process works. You should initially create as many ideas as you
can, spending maybe an hour or more at this part. Having a hundred
ideas in an evening is not impossible, especially if you know
a dozen or more techniques like the one outlined here. After
taking notes on many ideas, you pick through what you've created,
looking for the few creative ideas which might actually be of