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techniques for generating ideas

Techniques for generatingideas

Image: fotographic1980 /


“Creativity as a process of becoming sensitive to problems, deficiencies, gaps in knowledge, missing elements, disharmonies, and so on; identifying the difficulty; searching for solutions, making guesses, or formulating hypotheses about the deficiencies: testing and retesting these hypotheses and possibly modifying and retesting them; and finally communicating the results.”

(Torrance, 1965)

Image: ddpavumba /

techniques for generating ideas1
Techniques for generatingideas
  • Brainstorming
  • Brainwriting
techniques for generating ideas brainstorming
Techniques for generatingideasBrainstorming

Brainstorming is a technique for generating new ideas, concepts and solutions to any subject or topic, on an environment free of critiques and constraints to imagination. This technique is useful when we want to generate, in a short period, a big amount of ideas about a subject to be solved, possible causes of one problem, approaches to be used or actions to be taken.


Image: renjithkrishnan /

techniques for generating ideas brainstorming1
Techniques for generatingideasBrainstorming

How to use:

  • Clarify session objectives and rules;
  • Define the problem (what is the question?);
  • Schedule the session;
  • Give people some minutes to think about the question;
  • Write ideas in a flipchart (everyone can see);
  • Clarify the meaning of each presented idea;
  • Remove duplicated ideas.
techniques for generating ideas brainwriting
Techniques for generatingideasBrainwriting

Brainwriting is a group creativity technique for generating new ideas based on brainstorming. The main difference is that it is not the quality of ideas that matters but the quantity.

Image: David CastilloDominici /

techniques for generating ideas brainwtiting
Techniques for generatingideasBrainwtiting

How to use:

  • Each participant receives an empty sheet and write three ideas;
  • Each participant passes the sheet to the right and receives another from the left;
  • Each participant adds three new ideas to the received sheet (ideas are influenced by what they read);
  • Repeat the process until all participants have written three ideas in all sheets.
techniques for generating ideas scamper
Techniques for generatingideasSCAMPER

SCAMPER is a technique that uses a set of directed questions which you answer about your problems and opportunities in order to come up with new ideas.

techniques for generating ideas scamper1
Techniques for generatingideasSCAMPER

Substitute What can I substitute to make an improvement? What if I swap this for that and see what happens?

Combine What materials, features, processes, people, products or components can combine? Where can I build synergy?

Adapt What part of the product could I change?

Modify/distort What happens if I warp or exaggerate a feature or component? What will happen if I modify the process in some way?

Put to other purposes What other market could I use this product in? Who or what else might be able to use it?

Eliminate What would happen if I removed a component or part of it?

Rearrange/reverse What if I did it the other way round? What if I reverse the order it is done or the way it is used? How would I achieve the opposite effect?

Image: jscreationzs /

techniques for generating ideas scamper2
Techniques for generatingideasSCAMPER

How to use:

  • Expose the problem;
  • Expose the SCAMPER;
  • Define the strategy; all operators or a group or subgroups?
  • Develop questions for each operator; these questions must be suitable to the problem in discussion.