Taking Creativity Tools Apart

Taking Creativity Tools Apart

As a kid, did you ever take apart a toy to see what’s inside? Or as an adult, have you ever taken apart an electronic gadget –or maybe even your car- to understand the inner workings of its different parts? In today’s article, we’ll take a look below the surface of creativity tools – why we need them, what they are, how they work and even how you can create your own ones. Ready? Then let’s go.

Why do we need creativity tools?
In our Thinkergy innovation training, we typically ask participants at the beginning of the ideation stage to do a brainstorming exercise for a given challenge. When we review the ideas afterwards, the same interesting pattern always emerges: many ideas appear in each of the different brainstorming groups. This is a clear indication that such an idea is not highly original, but rather common and obvious. Why is that happening? When people are just doing a simple brainstorming, they are likely to produce rather obvious ideas that are all within a very narrow range of thinking. The ideators are stuck in what I call the “tunnel of expertise and conventional thoughts”. So how can you get out of the tunnel? Here is where creativity tools come in.

What are creativity tools?
Creativity tools are mechanistic processes that can reliably push your individual thinking into a new direction with the help of one or more triggers in order to generate ideas for your creative challenges (i.e., for the problems that you face or for the opportunities that you want to realize). A creativity tool works in a similar way to a revolver. When you pull the trigger, you reliably set in motion a mechanistic process that propels a bullet out of the gun towards a target. Similarly, creativity tools reliably push your thinking to a new starting point that is outside of your “tunnel of expertise and conventional thoughts”. From this fresh starting point, you are able to come up with new ideas that are very less common — and in some cases highly original.

How do creativity tools work?
So far, so good. Like a good car mechanic strips an engine to understand how it works, let’s similarly dissect creativity tools even further by trying to understand the underlying principles of their working. Here we come to the trigger that propel us to a new starting point. These “motors of a creativity tool” can be constituted using one or more of the following schemes:

  • First, a trigger can be a fresh perspective or novel point of view to look at the underlying problem in a completely different way, thus allowing coming up with ideas that are really different. For example, in a strategy innovation case, imagine how a visiting Alien without any “emotional baggage” and historical attachment would reposition your company for the future.
  • Secondly, a trigger may enable you to come up with many new associations — these are the mental images that pop-up in your mind when you hear a certain word or concept. For example, when we you hear the word New York, you may think of 9/11, the Empire State Building, Central Park, Wall Street, and other concepts that you’ve associated with the concept ‘New York’.
  • Thirdly, a trigger may be a formal framework or a sequence of thinking steps that you need to follow in a systematic order. For example, in the creativity tool Morphological Matrix, you first construct a table of input that then you use as stimulus for generating fresh ideas.
  • Fourthly and lastly, a trigger can be a question that fires up your imagination, or that takes your thinking to unusual heights. This last type of trigger is exemplified by What If-questions like “What if you were granted 3 wishes by a good fairy?”

Once you have understood the inner workings of the “motor” of creativity tools, and how to combine and pull the different triggers, then you can easily compose your own creativity tools.

How do creativity tools work in practice?
Let’s end this article by sharing with you one creativity tool (or I-Tools as we call them at Thinkergy) from our X-IDEA Innovation Toolbox. Word Association Chain is a beautiful and easy-to-learn creativity tool. It allows you to individually generate ideas that are inspired by a chain of words that you build as a stimulating trigger. All you need to use this tool is a blank piece of paper, a pen and your brain. Here is how you apply this tool:

  1. Review your challenge—say: “How to create a novel lip care product?”
  2. Get yourself any word. For example, you look into a news magazine and pick the first word you see: RED.
  3. Start a word association chain by completing the sentence: “When I think of RED, I think of the MAASAI”. Then repeat this procedure for each new word in a fast pace: “When I think of MAASAI, I think of AFRICA”. “When I think of AFRICA, I think of KILIMANJARO”. “When I think of KILIMANJARO, I think of SNOW”. And so on. Continue until your paper is full of associations.
  4. Review your word association chain, and use it as stimulus to create ideas for your lip care innovation challenge. For example, the word MAASAI might trigger the idea “Print ethnic tribal motives on a lip care stick”, while the word SNOW might inspire the idea “Create a cooling lip care product made from snow”.

Conclusion: Creativity tools help you to fight two enemies of creativity: They remove your tunnel vision caused by the “expert syndrome” and your habitual conventional ways of thinking. Moreover, they also overcome a lack of inspiration or complacency, as using creativity tools is usually great fun. When are you ready to play for ideas?

© Dr. Detlef Reis 

18 comments (Add your own)

1. wrote:
Hey there! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could find a captcha plugin for my comment form?

I'm using the same blog platform as yours and I'm having difficulty finding
one? Thanks a lot!

Sat, May 11, 2019 @ 9:54 PM

2. wrote:
Outstanding quest there. What occurred after? Good luck!

Fri, June 21, 2019 @ 7:42 PM

3. wrote:
I was wondering if you ever thought of changing the layout of your blog?
Its very well written; I love what youve got to say.
But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with
it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or
two images. Maybe you could space it out better? natalielise plenty of fish

Fri, July 26, 2019 @ 7:31 AM

4. wrote:
I read this article fully on the topic of the resemblance of hottest and earlier technologies, it's awesome article.

Sat, September 7, 2019 @ 6:06 AM

5. wrote:
I am regular reader, how are you everybody? This post posted
at this website is in fact nice.

Sat, September 7, 2019 @ 3:09 PM

6. wrote:
I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you
make this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
Plz respond as I'm looking to construct my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.
thanks a lot

Mon, November 4, 2019 @ 10:11 PM

7. wrote:
Wow, this paragraph is nice, my sister is analyzing such things, so I am going to inform her.

Fri, November 15, 2019 @ 10:12 PM

8. wrote:
Aw, this was a very good post. Spending some time and actual
effort to produce a superb article… but what can I say… I hesitate a whole lot and don't
manage to get nearly anything done.

Thu, November 21, 2019 @ 4:47 AM

9. wrote:
I do accept as true with all of the ideas you've presented in your post.
They're very convincing and can definitely work.
Nonetheless, the posts are very quick for newbies.
May just you please extend them a little from subsequent
time? Thanks for the post.

Sun, November 24, 2019 @ 12:42 AM

10. wrote:
Quality articles is the crucial to be a focus for the
viewers to visit the site, that's what this website is providing.

Mon, December 2, 2019 @ 4:06 AM

11. wrote:
Hi there to all, for the reason that I am genuinely keen of reading
this webpage's post to be updated on a regular basis.

It carries good material.

Wed, December 4, 2019 @ 3:10 PM

12. wrote:
I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you create this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you?
Plz answer back as I'm looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from.
thank you

Fri, December 6, 2019 @ 5:49 AM

13. wrote:
I'm no longer positive the place you are getting your information, however good topic.
I must spend some time finding out much more
or working out more. Thank you for fantastic information I was searching
for this information for my mission.

Wed, December 11, 2019 @ 10:14 PM

14. wrote:
Why people still make use of to read news papers when in this technological globe all is
existing on web?

Mon, January 13, 2020 @ 9:13 PM

15. wrote:
This article will help the internet people for setting up new weblog
or even a weblog from start to end.

Tue, January 14, 2020 @ 4:23 PM

16. wrote:
This post offers clear idea in favor of the new visitors of blogging, that genuinely how
to do blogging and site-building.

Thu, January 16, 2020 @ 11:18 PM

17. wrote:
I just could not depart your website before suggesting that I
actually enjoyed the standard information an individual provide to your
guests? Is going to be again steadily to check up on new posts

Sat, January 18, 2020 @ 6:52 PM

18. wrote:
Hello, its fastidious article on the topic of media print, we all be aware of
media is a impressive source of data.

Sat, April 4, 2020 @ 3:41 AM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.