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michelle vaughton

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Creative Thinking Techniques and Exercises


I am facilitating a day event for a team of Marketing professionals.  Part of the day consists of an ideas session which focuses on generating  ideas to achieve some of the department goals.

There are about 20 people attending and a number of mini presentations / updates throughout the day.  I would like to insert a few exercises throughout the day that will get the team thinking differently and provide some tools / techniques to help stimulate thinking.

I have tried random input, brain writing and reverse brainstorm in the past but wondered if anyone had anything else they have used or any exercises that get you thinking differently.

Any suggestions would be very much appreciated.




4 Responses

  1. You be the boss

    Hi Michelle,

    How about getting them to shift their thinking by pretending to be someone else. Either a random person (what would superman do?) or quite useful is getting people to think like the boss. I've made masks before for people to wear so that they are all the owner of the business and so don't need to be limited by cost/resource implications. They can then evolve the idea based on these more mundane considerations to what they can achieve.

    Other things are reframing the question. How many different ways can they ask the question that is being asked and how does that shift their thinking? Exaggeration, using synonyms etc can all work. The other option that is useful (mainly because it is quite silly and fun) is to reverse their thinking; instead of solving a problem how do you make it worse. Out of this should fall some opposite actions that could be used. EG if original question is 'how can we improve communication with our customers?' the reverse question would be 'how do we achieve the worst customer communication possible?' Ideas such as 'not using language that they understand' or 'only communicating by hand written letters during months with a 'b' in them' could give reverse solutions of 'tailor our message to different people in our target audiences' and 'have multiple channels of communication so that our customers can engage with us in the way that suits them best, at the time that suits them best'

    I hope that helps.


  2. Apply Unrelated Incidents

    Hi Michelle:

    I have found it helpful to look at unrelated articles on what has been achieved and consider how the outcome can be applied to your particular issue. What may seem to have no connection can actually offer a fresh perspective. For example: health coaching articles write that research indicates you must change up your exercise routine every month since you body gets use to the movements and the exercise becomes less effective. This concept can also be applied to online learning – constantly changing things up in the learning arena every few weeks can help learners become more aware of a process or concept. Additional perspectives can also become clearer.


    Good luck on your facilitation.





  3. Assumptions

    Ask the group to think of 20 uses for a clothes peg.

    At the end of the session look at the assumptions that were made.

    How many assumed it was plastic, wood, small, spring loaded etc?

    Very hard to be creative when you start with limitations so the point of the exercise is to never assume.


  4. Generating ideas

    I have a number of slides, activities and session for idea generation – if you drop me a line I will send them to you to review, select, take from as you wish:

    [email protected]

    I am an in-house trainer/leader and not a sales-person. The resources are offered as part of an open source philosophy.


    Cheers, Nick  


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michelle vaughton

Learning and development manager

Read more from michelle vaughton

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