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Developing the Creative Craft Part IX – Creativity Technique

Random Input

We last looked at the White Hat creative technique. The following is my favorite – Random Input.

The random-word method is a powerful lateral-thinking technique that is very easy to use. It is by far the simplest of all creative techniques and is widely used by people who need to create new ideas (for example, for new products). 

Chance events allow us to enter the existing patterns of our thinking at a different point. The associations of a word applied to the new 'out of context’ situation generates new connections in our mind, often producing an instant ‘Eureka’ effect, insight or intuition. 

It is said that Newton got the idea of gravity when he was hit on the head with an apple while sitting under an apple tree. It is not necessary to sit under trees and wait for an apple to fall – we can get up and shake the tree. We can produce our own chance events. 

Random inputs can be words or images. Some techniques for getting random words (and the words should be nouns) are: 

  •  Have a bag full of thousands of words written on small pieces of paper, cardboard, poker chips, etc. Close your eyes, put in your hand and pull out a word. 
  • Open the dictionary (or newspaper) at a random page and choose a word. 
  • Use a computer program to give you a random word. A spread sheet with an imported list – or even a Kindle swished to a random page will work.
  • Look at your watch and take note of the seconds. Use this number to get the word. 

It is important to use the first word you find. 

Once you have chosen the word, list its attributions or associations with the word. Then apply each of the items on your list and see how it applies to the problem at hand. 

How does it work?

Because the brain is a self-organising system, and very good at making conections. Almost any random word will stimulate ideas on the subject. Follow the associations and functions of the stimulus word, as well as using aspects of the word as a metaphor. 

You may want to mind-map the random word. 


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