This web page is a tutorial
on just one part of "Brainstorming Toolbox"
(the program for enhanced creative thinking and problem solving). Click
here for a free 30 day trial of Brainstorming Toolbox
How to use the Random Word technique
The first thing you need is the Random Word itself which is classed as the initial stimulus. Then you establish a Bridging Idea which is an idea which is based on the stimulus. You then use this idea as a bridge between the stimulus and an idea which you could actually use on your problem.
Quick example 1:Using a random word of "Balloon" in the context of new ideas about cars.
A Bridging Idea could be that you inflate the balloon under the car. The advantages of this would be that the car jack would not puncture rusty cars and that cars could be raised on soft ground.
The resulting final idea could be to have a car jack which spreads the load over the car and the ground.
Quick example 2:
Using a random word of "Spacecraft" in the context of new ideas
In Brainstorming Toolbox there is a special
section for making the Random Word technique come to life. In it you are
automatically given a random word which the computer randomly picks from
a comprehensive list of words. The easiest words to use are nouns because
they have many real attributes and it is easier to imagine the actual
object physically being used in any particular situation. But, because
we can never presume that everyone will use the words in the same way,
you have a choice between using random words from a list of (a) common
nouns, (b) common words and (c) all words in the dictionary. It is recommended
that you stick to the default of common nouns and as you become more skillful
in using the technique perhaps trying the other alternatives occasionally
to see what use you can give them. (Note there are over 4000 common nouns,
12000 common words and 50000 words in the corresponding options.)
Use the following as an example:You are working for a car manufacturer in the Wheel department and are trying to come up with some new ideas about the wheel without re-inventing it. And then you get given the random word of Toothbrush! What are your initial thoughts? ... How on earth is this relevant?, What a silly idea, they are totally irrelevant?. Before you go on, spend a couple of minutes coming up with some new ideas yourself.
Some example ideas you might have come up with (with some working through of the thinking process behind them which you wouldnt have to write down normally):
Replacing the wheel with a toothbrush:
Bridging Ideas:Imagine the entire tyre of the wheel made of bristles of a toothbrush. What are the advantages?
Resulting relevant Ideas:
Features of a toothbrush:
Resulting relevant Ideas:
What are the benefits of a toothbrush?
Resulting relevant Ideas:
What do you have to be careful of when using the technique?You must be careful of deciding that a specific word is of no use and getting another instead. If you do this then often you are just trying to choose a random word which fits into the problem you are trying to solve and therefore you end up with a word which is not random. Again, the skill is to work out HOW the word can be made to fit.
Be careful of creating too many steps in between the Random Word as a stimulus and coming up with a relevant idea, or you run the risk of ending up with an idea you already know works. e.g. A suggests B, which suggests C, which suggests D which is what we are already using
You also have to be careful of linking the word with an idea you already know about. You have to train your mind not to do this and should take the word at face value. You must guard against using the technique to come up with an old idea to show that the old idea is good. E.g. I already like the idea of using brushes on the inside of the wheel arches to clean the tyre so I will link Toothbrushes to a wheel to come up with the same idea. Wow, it must be a good idea because this random technique came up with it.
Other Factors for using the Random Word technique:Some words will work and others will not, depending on the individual and the problem. No word is guaranteed better than another, it just depends on the situation. You could use a large number of words for each problem or a small number but if you find yourself using a large number then you should question yourself as to how you are using the word. You may be just searching for a word to fit with an idea you have already. Of course, sometimes using a continuous stream of different words can get a large number of ideas too, but ... cest la vie.
You can also use the Random Word technique for assessing the current situation. Often by having a word in front of you, you are stimulated to think about different aspect of the problem. E.g. When I brush my teeth the forces on the toothbrush are in all different directions, is there a problem with having suspension which only goes up and down? or When I was a child I hated brushing my teeth, is the problem with a lot of car journeys that the people in the back hate being there because they can not see anything?
Often using a Random Word can just remind you of something which you knew all along but you had forgotten to write it down in your investigation. If you have thousands of aspects to a problem then even if you know them all it is hard to remember them all when it actually comes to writing them all down. A Random Word can often help remind you of them again.
A similar technique is the Random Picture which uses a picture as a stimulus instead of a word. Some people find it easier to use words than pictures and other people the other way round whereas some people find both techniques work well for them but for different aspects of different probortunities. I am afraid you will just have to experiment.
Please try this technique for yourself and you will certainly improve at coming up with new ideas.
The full trial version of Brainstorming Toolbox is NOW available!
If you would like to evaluate this version of Brainstorming Toolbox then click the next line. It is fully functional for 30 days after which we are sure that you will want to buy the full version. You can order on-line using a credit card for instant payment.
Click here to go to the Brainstorming Toolbox download page
Click here NOW to go to INNOVATION HOUSE, web resource for creativity and brainstorming.
Infinite Innovations Ltd
Address: 71 Sheldon Road, Sheffield, S7 1GU, UK.
©1997-2011 Infinite Innovations Ltd. All rights reserved
Brainstorming Toolbox and the Infinite Innovations logo are the trademarks of Infinite Innovations Ltd.