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Instructions on Generating Creative and Practical Ideas

Here are two brainstorming techniques you can use to improve the odds of getting a good idea. You may want to review my Creative Thinking Tips page since that contains some vital supplemental information.

Random Input

This is a neat way to force a change in your thinking and get some new ideas.

Step 1: Specify the problem or challenge you want to address. Getting your local officials to "think green" is too broad. Something about encouraging local officials to make city buildings more energy efficient is better.

Step 2: Reduce your challnge to a key phrase like "promoting energy efficiency."

Step 3: Pull out a dictionary and open it at random. Pick the first noun you come to. Repeat if the fist word means nothing to you. Do not simply scan across the page until you come to a word that looks promising. Think about everything you associate with the selected word. You do not have to be all-inclusive or exhaustive here. 

Step 4: Now, look at the word and ask yourself a questions something like this: How is promoting energy efficiency like a key?

Step 5: Look at everything you wrote about your selected word, and force yourself to make connections between those things and your challenge. Be sure to write down your ideas!
(An alternate version of random input asks you to compare your challenge, such as promoting energy efficiency, with a totally unrelated activity such as grocery shopping. You would look for parellels between grocery shopping, or whatever, and promoting energy efficiency.)

Stuff You'll Need

1. An open mind - don't censor ideas at this stage of the process.
2. Something to write on - don't count on your memory!
3. Something to write with - see #2.
4. Standards for evalauting your ideas.

More Information

Interested in more wasy to generate and evaluate ideas? Here are some valuable guides.
Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko
A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger VonOech
Cracking Creativity by Michael Michalko
The Thinker's Toolkit
Decisions, Decisions

Get Books on Creative Thinking