2016 Conference

Gone Idea Fishing: A Creative Problemsolving Tacklebox

Some folks just seem better at coming up with creative ideas than others. If you find that you’re one of the folks who struggles with idea generation and creative problem solving, don’t despair. Matt has provided a full tacklebox of strategies to help.

Most good brainstorming sessions follow six basic rules:

  • Start by reviewing the problem
  • No bad ideas, no judgement or evaluation
  • All ideas can lead to other ideas
  • All ideas recorded in clear view of participants
  • No editing until afterwards (maybe at a completely different session)
  • Assign a facilitator who will enforce these rules

But when you’ve tried that, there are some ideas beyond brainstorming to try that might bring you the ideas that will really push your work forward. How about Six Thinking Hats? SCAMPERing?

Whatever methods you choose, it’s important to map the habitat. Remember that patience is a virtue, and there’s usually better fishing around the edges, and fish are sometimes more abundant in turbulent waters.

Some non-traditional techniques Matt covered include the notion of Forced Connections — list all the important words or concepts developed in a brainstorming session, and then randomly put them together with one another, to see if they evoke any new ideas. Or even farther outside the box, pull random words out of the dictionary, and discuss how that word could be relevant in moving you closer to your goal. You might be surprised by the serendipity!

Big fish eat little fish (lots of little ideas can be combined into a big idea), and don’t hesitate to throw ideas back if you try them out but they’re not working as you’d expected.

You’ll find Matt’s slides and narrative online, for even more problem-solving ideas and techniques.

Matt Ryan
Associate Director of Web Communications, Carleton College

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