Collating a big list of creative thinking techniques

I’ve looked around. There are a LOT of creative thinking techniques around. Some are better than others. Some work for me, some don’t. In an effort to start somewhere, I’ve picked , mainly because they have a big list.

So I started to go through their list and noticed that they hadn’t finished categorising all of the techniques they listed. Since the wiki was two years out of date I thought I’d have a go myself and publish here. See attached. I plan to come back to this list over time, adding to it with other techniques I find, and posting examples of how I have actually put the techniques to use, although I don’t expect to get around to trying them all.

If anyone has any experience using these techniques, let me know. Mostly though, I’ll keep plugging away at this until I have a toolkit of sorts, something that I’ve tried out and am happy to use myself.Creative Thinking Techniques


CHildcare on long haul flights

Many parents with young children dread long haul family flights. Partly because it’s just hard keeping kids entertained for that long, and partly because of the bad vibes from surrounding passengers. Imagine this…

You and your partner are parents, two kids both under 5. You check in, meet your child minder and get some help carting your carryon luggage through to the gate. You are shown to the back of the plane, where you glimpse the play area and childrens toys waiting for you all post take off. Once the plane has reached altitude you walk your kids down to the play area (possible with sound proofing) and leave them there. Then it’s back to that book or a movie for a while, as you check the on screen baby monitor channel you have secure access to. Bliss.

Now why isn’t this offered on all ong haul flights? And how could we set it up?

1. Permanently repurpose the plane, airlines to offer service as a point of differentiation. Air stewards to propvide child minding service
2. Temporarily take over a few back rows (say 5 rows) and bring on a third party child minding serviceblocking.

Rest needs more thought. But I WANT it. I;d pay more with or without kids to have this level of separation and care. WOuld you?

updating the newsagency business model

I just read a piece about the decline in sales for the traditional newsagency here in Australia. With falling sales in printed news and magazines, and the move away from paper lottery tickets towards online purchasing the best they could come up with was to sell ink cartridges or turn into coffee shops. A bit lazy I thought.

Is the whole coffee drinking/cafe culture thing really relevant? I don’t really buy it myself. Sure, we might eat and drink whilst we read but is that really a value add? Same goes for printer ink. It just feels like someone in marketing has analysed last years sales results and picked a couple of areas that held out a decent margin and growth. Be a bit visionary here. Give me something to throw at a damn big screen when I read the news. please

So, here is a brief line of thinking. Assuming that newsagencies want to stay focused on media consumption, and would like to differentiate from an actual coffee shop which has free newspapers in it, what else can they do?

  • Fancy Hardware: Big screens, tabletop touch screens, ipads on loan, and proper broadband speeds. Maybe a bit capital intensive, but definitely better than the dog slow wifi speeds we are getting in Oz (if you want to read your online news on the bus), and who doesn’t want to use a really big touch screen?
  • Social Spaces: they’ll need to be a bit different to sitting in Starbucks, how about open news discussions (through linked screens etc), or the ability to leave messages/annotation for the next reader. This culd be software, blackboards etc. But it needs to be better than dropping a comment on FaceBook or mumbling your outrage to yourself as you read the latest news on public sector unions and their ridiculous claims (or whatever gets your goat). Frustration forums, venting machines…the list goes on.
  • Subscription services: I’ve always liked browsing through random titles in the news agency. Online its a bit harder. Why not try and extend the online competition by managing people’s subscriptions for them. Recommendations, trial periods, etc could enable the news agent to become your guide to all things worthy of your attention. There sure is a lot of crap out there, sometimes we just need a guide. I’m happy to walk into a bottle shop and take advice on what to drink, why not take a bit of expert advice on what to read?

Musical stairs

Late in 2009, this idea for musical stairs was posted to At first glance, I have to say I just love this idea. There are even other examples of musical stairs in use elsewhere, here and here. SO I guess other people liked the idea too.

But why, exactly, does this idea make us think “wow, what a great idea”. Probably because it is childish, fun, unexpected, novel and seems to actually work. Now for some questions…

The challenge  was this Q) how can you get people to change the change their behaviour (in this case, using the stairs)? A) Make it fun.

But why was this challenge set? Perhaps the reasoning went like this …”make people exercise more, maybe by using the stairs. We heard that can help” . This sounds like a government target, maybe a way to cut health spending or improve public image. Maybe a public servant started reading about design-led community transformation and got excited about driving cultural change through product design.

A first effort at solving this problem might start out with advertising, or maybe some sort of gimmick to ‘get’ people to use the stairs for a bit. THis would probably be about as effective as a diet. Unlikely to affect long term behavioural change.  At this point, I start to think of an old  joke:

“How many buddhists does it take to change a lightbulb? None. But the lightbulb has got to really want to change”

Do people really want to walk up musical stairs? For the rest of their lives? I doubt it. But what if the goal was to increase public image, or simply distract people whilst we  repaired the escalator? Perhaps this could be reapplied in other areas of public maintenance… what about when roads get dug up or when streets are closed? With a bit of fun, we might actually look forwards to having our day disrupted by maintenance crews.

Let me know if you can think of a way to commercialise this. I’d love to see road crews running karaoke sessions, space invaders games as we wait for pedestrian crossings or impromptu jazz sessions every time a crowd gather to wait for a faulty lift…