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gari jenkins


Random Input - Making Creative Leaps

Random Input is a lateral thinking tool. It is very useful when you need fresh ideas or new perspectives during problem solving.

We tend to think by recognizing patterns. We react to these patterns based on past experience and extensions to that experience. Sometimes, though, we get stuck inside them - within a particular pattern there may be no good solution to a particular sort of problem.

Random input is a technique for linking another thinking pattern into the one we are using. Along with this new pattern comes all the experience you have connected to it.

How to use tool:
To use Random Input, select a random noun from either a dictionary or a pre-prepared word list. It often helps if the noun is something that can be seen or touched (e.g. 'helicopter', 'dog') rather than a concept (e.g. 'fairness'). Use this noun as the starting point for brainstorming your problem.

You may find that you get good insights if you select a word from a separate field in which you have some expertise.

If you choose a good word, you will add a range of new ideas and concepts to your brainstorming. While some will be useless, hopefully you will gain some good new insights into your problem. If you persist, then at least one of these is likely to be a startling creative leap.

Imagine that you are thinking about the problem of reducing car pollution. So far in thinking through the problem you have considered all the conventional solutions of catalytic conversion and clean fuels.

Selecting a random noun from the titles of the books in a book case you might see the word 'Plants'. Brainstorming from this you could generate a number of new ideas:

  • Plant trees on the side of roads to convert CO2 back into oxygen

  • Similarly, pass exhaust gases through a soup of algae to convert CO2 back into oxygen. Perhaps this is how an 'air scrubber' in a space craft works?

  • Put sulphur-metabolising bacteria into an exhaust gas processor to clean up exhaust gases. Would nitrogen compounds fertilize these bacteria?

  • Another meaning of 'Plant' is factory. Perhaps exhaust gases could be collected in a container, and sent to a special plant to be cleaned? Perhaps you could offload these gases at the same time as you fill up with fuel?

These ideas are very raw. Some may be wrong or impractical. One of them might be original and the basis of some useful development.

Key points:
Random input is an excellent way of getting new perspectives on a problem. It often leads to startling creative leaps.

It provides an easy way of breaking out of restrictive thinking patterns. It helps you to link in whole ranges of new solutions that you would not otherwise associate with the problem.

The best words to use are concrete nouns, which may come from areas in which you have some expertise. Nouns should not, however, come from the same field as the problem you are considering - the whole idea of Random Input is to link in new thinking patterns, not to stay inside old ones.



@ Complexity

@ Decision Making

@ Creativity

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