By Anil Skariah

There are some tools which you can use when you want to come up with new ideas or when you want to organize many ideas

There are lots of idea creating tools. Here we discuss some of the tools, which you can use when you want to come up with new ideas or organize many ideas:
1. Affinity Diagram: It organizes a large number of ideas into their natural relationships.
2. Brainstorming: A method for generating a large number of creative ideas in a short period of time.
3. Reverse brainstorming: This tool helps to create more ideas by combining brainstorming and reversal techniques.
4.Scamper: SCAMPER is based on the notion that everything new is a modification of something that already exists. Each letter in the acronym represents a different way you can play with the characteristics of what is challenging you to trigger new ideas:
• S = Substitute
• C = Combine
• A = Adapt
• M = Magnify
• P = Put to other uses
• E = Eliminate (or Minify)
• R = Rearrange (or Reverse)
5. TRIZ: TRIZ is a problem-solving methodology based on logic, data and research, not intuition. It draws on the past knowledge and ingenuity of many thousands of Engineers to accelerate the project team’s ability to solve problems creatively. As such, TRIZ brings repeatability, predictability, and reliability to the problem-solving process with its structured and algorithmic approach
6. Six Thinking Habits: It is a powerful tool for brainstorming and innovation. By breaking down thoughts into six “parallel” or “lateral” areas, it allows a spectrum of thought, from gut feeling to data analysis, to be separately discussed. By using these six types of thinking in a structured way, groups can more effectively create new ideas.
7. The Kipling method (5W1H): This is mainly used as a problem solving tool, to get creative ideas
The Affinity Diagram organizes a large number of ideas into their natural relationships. This method taps a team’s creativity and intuition. It was created in the 1960’s by the Japanese anthropologist Jiro Kawakita.

When to use an Affinity Diagram

• When you are confronted with many facts or ideas in apparent chaos
• When issues seem too large and complex to grasp
• When group consensus is necessary
The typical situations are:
• After a brainstorming exercise
• When analyzing verbal data, such as survey results.

Affinity Diagram: Procedure

Materials needed: Sticky notes or cards, marking pens, large work surface (wall, table, or floor).
1. Record each idea with a marking pen on a separate sticky note or card. (During a brainstorming session, write directly onto sticky notes or cards if you suspect you will be following the brainstorm with an affinity diagram.) Randomly spread notes on a large work surface so that all notes are visible to everyone. The entire team gathers around the notes and participates in the next steps.
2. It is very important that no one talks during this step. Look for ideas that seem to be related in some way. Place them side by side. Repeat until all notes are grouped. It’s okay to have “loners” who don’t seem to fit a group. It’s all right to move a note someone else has already moved. If a note seems to belong in two groups, make a second note.
3. You can talk now. Participants can discuss the shape of the chart, any surprising patterns, and especially reasons for moving controversial notes. A few more changes may be made. When ideas are grouped, select a heading for each group. Look for a note in each grouping that captures the meaning of the group. Place it at the top of the group. If there is no such note, write one. Often it is useful to write or highlight this note in a different color.
Combine groups into “supergroups” if appropriate
2. Brainstorming
Brainstorming is a method for generating a large number of creative ideas in a short period of time.
When to use Brainstorming
• When a broad range of options is desired.
• When creative, original ideas are desired.
• When participation of the entire group is desired.
Brainstorming: Procedure
Materials needed: flipchart, marking pens, tape and blank wall space.
1.Review the rules of brainstorming with the entire group:
• No criticism, no evaluation, no discussion of ideas.
• There are no stupid ideas. The wilder the better.
• All ideas are recorded.
• Piggybacking is encouraged: Combining, modifying, expanding others’ ideas.
2. Review the topic or problem to be discussed. Often it is best phrased as a “why,” “how,” or “what” question. Make sure everyone understands the subject of the brainstorm.
3. Allow a minute or two of silence for everyone to think about the question.
4. Invite people to call out their ideas. Record all ideas, in words as close as possible to those used by the contributor. No discussion or evaluation of any kind is permitted.
5. Continue to generate and record ideas until several minutes’ silence produces no more.

Brainstorming considerations

• Judgment and creativity are two functions that cannot occur simultaneously. That’s the reason for the rules about no criticism and no evaluation.
• Laughter and groans are criticism. When there is criticism, people begin to evaluate their ideas before stating them. Fewer ideas are generated and creative ideas are lost.
• Evaluation includes positive comments such as “Great idea!” That implies that another idea that did not receive praise was mediocre.
• The more the better. Studies have shown that there is a direct relationship between the total number of ideas and the number of good, creative ideas.
• The crazier the better. Be unconventional in your thinking. Don’t hold back any ideas. Crazy ideas are creative. They often come from a different perspective.
• Crazy ideas often lead to wonderful, unique solutions, through modification or by sparking someone else’s imagination.
• Hitchhike. Piggyback. Build on someone else’s idea.
• When brainstorming with a large group, someone other than the facilitator should be the recorder. The facilitator should act as a buffer between the group and the recorder(s), keeping the flow of ideas going and ensuring that no ideas get lost before being recorded.
• The recorder should try not to rephrase ideas. If an idea is not clear, ask for a rephrasing that everyone can understand. If the idea is too long to record, work with the person who suggested the idea to come up with a concise rephrasing. The person suggesting the idea must always approve what is recorded.
• Keep all ideas visible. When ideas overflow to additional flipchart pages, post previous pages around the room so all ideas are still visible to everyone.
3. Reverse Brainstorming
When to use it
When people are finding difficulty in creating ideas.
When you have people with judging and convergent preferences.
When people have more strongly analytic than creative preferences.
Use it as a different method for idea creating, to get even more ideas.
Use when you are able to conceptually reverse the problem.

How to use it

Reverse the problem to ‘how to cause it’
Change the wording of the problem on which you are working from how to solve it to how to cause it.
For example, when looking at a customer satisfaction problem, ask ‘How can we cause customers to be dissatisfied?’
Identify ways of causing the problem
Use Brainstorming or any other method (or a combination of methods) to identify different ways of causing the problem. You can use creative approaches or analytic methods.
An analytic approach would list all of the available things or steps of a process and then break these down further. For example, causing customer satisfaction could isolate when they are on the phone and the person to whom they are talking cannot answer their question.
Find ways of preventing the problem being caused
Now use creative or analytic methods to identify ways of preventing the problem causes identified in the previous step from being caused.
Thus, for example, when the customer is on the phone, the operator may be trained to classify their problem and hand them to the right person.

Example

I am seeking to keep a folding chair open.

I reword it as ‘how to make a folding chair fold up’
I use a spring, an elastic band, a lever.
I reverse the lever so the spring or elastic keeps the chair open.

How it works

Many people find it easier to be judgemental or analytic, particularly as these methods are widely taught within our education system.
Reversal also takes another position, jumping to an opposite viewpoint. This switch gives a new perspective and hence can lead to new ideas.
4. SCAMPER technique
To use the SCAMPER technique, first state the problem you’d like to solve or the idea you’d like to develop. It can be anything: A challenge in your personal life or business; or maybe a product, service or process you want to improve. After pinpointing the challenge, it’s then a matter of asking questions about it using the SCAMPER checklist to guide you.
Consider, for instance, the problem: “How can I increase sales in my business?”
Following the SCAMPER recipe, here are a few questions you could ask:
• S (Substitute): “What can I substitute in my selling process?”
• C (Combine): “How can I combine selling with other activities?”
• A (Adapt): “What can I adapt or copy from someoneelse’s selling process?”
• M (Magnify): “What can I magnify or put more emphasis on when selling?”
• P (Put to other uses): “How can I put my selling to other uses?”
• E (Eliminate): “What can I eliminate or simplify in my selling process?”
• R (Rearrange): “How can I change, reorder or reverse the way I sell?”
These questions force you to think differently about your problem and eventually come up with innovative solutions.
A classic example is MacDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. In hindsight, it’s easy to identify many of the ideas he used through the SCAMPER lens: Selling restaurants and real estate instead of simply hamburgers [P=Putto other uses]; having customers pay before they eat [R=Rearrange]; letting customers serve themselves, avoiding the use of waiters [E=Eliminate] — just to mention a few.
5. TRIZ
This is well-explained in the previous issue as part 11. This is one of the best creative tools
6. Six Thinking Hats
When to use it:
Use it in teams where you want to use different types of thinking.
Use it where individuals would feel inhibited by taking these roles without prior legitimization.
Use it to encourage further use of a range of thinking processes.
You can use it to explore ideas when selecting which to take forward.
You can use it to explore how other people will react when you try to implement your idea.

How to use it

Explain the hats
Explain to the team the meaning of the hats below. If people are not used to them, a sheet of paper each with the colors and explanations clearly displayed on them.
It can be a good idea to have a little bit of practice first, to help people get used to the idea and how to use them.
When you have been regularly using this method in a team for a while, you will not need to explain or even discuss them. People will naturally start sentences, with such as ‘Well, in a Black Hat way, I would say that…’

Use the hats

In conversation, people now precede a comment that is using one of the six thinking styles by mentioning the hat, or even the color. For example, you could say, “With the White Hat on, I’d like to ask if anyone else knows about this.” (and in doing so, be forgiven for not being totally expert in all things).
If you are the leader or facilitator, add to the legitimization by using the hats yourself. Model behavior for others by regularly using all hats. Don’t over-do it by using them in every sentence, but do model early and at regular intervals, especially if people are missing viewpoints or are not using the hats well enough.
Some people even use a set of fold-up flags (which you can make or buy). When you are using a given style, you fold up the flag that denotes the style, thus giving other people a continuing signal as to the thinking you are using.

How it works

Many people have preferred thinking and communication styles and feel uncomfortable working outside this style. They also may feel that by using a different a different style that they will be judged as inconsistent by other people and socially punished. As a result, they will avoid using those styles that they do not feel others will accept.
Hats are useful metaphor: they go on your head (where you think), and to some extent act as a disguise.
By publicly discussing and agreeing to use the hats, these different thinking styles are not only legitimized but also actively encouraged. Particularly when others start using them, the more timid people will also feel empowered to ‘step outside the box’.
Just by discussing the hats, even people who are less inhibited can also get the idea of deliberately thinking in a broader fashion. They can try on the hats to take different views on the situation.
7. The Kipling method (5W1H)

When to use it

Use the Kipling questions at any time or when you need to get an extra stimulus.
They are good for unsticking creative session, when people dry up and run out of ideas.
They are also useful to help take different views when defining the problem.
You can also use it to ask questions when selecting an idea to carry forward for further development.

How to use it

Rudyard Kipling used a set of questions to help trigger ideas and solve problems and he immortalized them in the poem:
“I have six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew
I call them What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who”
These questions can be used as stimuli to get thinking going in many situations.

Ask a question

The simple approach is to take one of the questions, either at random or with a more particular purpose in mind and ask it of the situation.
Thus, for example, if you were organizing an office party, you might ask ‘Why are we having it? How much fun do we want? What music do people like? Who will come?’ and so on.

Extend the questions

You can also extend the use of the raw single-word questions into question phrases, for example:
How much? Why not? What time? Which place? Who can? Where else? When?
Ask a planned sequence of questions
One approach with this is to use the questions in a particular order to help guide you through a sequence of thought towards a complete answer, such as:
• What is the problem?
• Where is it happening?
• When is it happening?
• Why is it happening?
• How can you overcome this problem?
• Who do you need to get involved?
• When will you know you have solved the problem?

How it works

Any questions work because we are conditioned to answer questions that we are asked. They challenge us and social rules say it is impolite not to reply.
The Kipling questions work because they are short and direct. They are also largely general, and ‘What’ can be applied to many different situations, making them a flexible resource.