Running a Creativity Session

 Outline Process



Always set up a creative session using focus – with what do we want to end up at the completion of our thinking

There are two approaches to focus:

  1. Purpose Focus – has a specific end purpose
    g. how can we improve something, how can we speed something up etc.
  2. Area Focus – we explore the topic before we judge it
    g. we might look at communication, meetings, safety – with no specific purpose

Once we have defined a focus we can redefine the focus in order to give us a new angle on our problem solving:

e.g. here are several alternate definitions of a parking problem:

  • the car park is too small
  • too many people want to use the car park
  • too many people drive to work
  • people complain about the small car park

Traditional Brainstorm:

Take a focus and brainstorm to pull out all current ideas – no bad ideas, give encouragement

Technique 1 – Random Word:

Use random word to generate further ideas:

Getting the random word – glance at the position of the second hand of a watch.  Take the number, e.g. 32, and select the word the third line down and second noun in from a book or newspaper

Using the random word – take the word and extract an association, function, activity from the word and generate new ideas about the focus

e.g.      Focus              Random Word            Association                  New Idea

Camera           Gun                             Westerns

= sand                         sand proof camera

NB       work individually first and then share output

Things to avoid:

  • Don’t wait for the perfect random word
  • Don’t list all the attributes first
  • Don’t make too many jumps
  • Don’t link your ideas to random output

Technique 2 – Challenge:

Technique 1 will generate a host of ideas

In order to generate broader thinking the challenge technique can be used

Challenge can be introduced at any stage; i.e. this could be the first technique used during a session.

Establish current thinking on the focus – this is achieved using the following five categories:

CATEGORY                          AIRLINE

Dominant ideas                       Make money flying planes with people/cargo on board

Boundaries                              Airports/technology/national agreements etc

Assumptions                           Increasing airline congestion/growth of holidays etc

Essential Factors                    Safety

Avoidance Factors                 Overcapacity/security worries/unused planes etc

Use challenge technique on current thinking:

Why Cut:                  Does this need to be done at all; remove the item and run the thinking forward and see if this cut can be implemented

Why Because:         If you can’t cut the item then challenge the validity of the reasons why it is done that way.  Can you satisfy the focus in another way, or escape the process; i.e. revise the way things are done

Why Alternatives:    Both Why C and Why B will often to lead to the generation of alternative ideas and approaches.



Along with Focus this is the weakest part of all creativity sessions

Take all of the ideas generated and put them onto Post It notes

Group the ideas by category (e.g. themes/events/structures etc.) and number each idea according to its category

Position all the ideas onto a capability/impact matrix.

Select the ideas with greatest potential for further screening.