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Creating Creative Concepts

This is your quick guide to how to have more creative concepts for your business, job, and life in general. You can practice the following techniques alone, but doing so with others helps a lot. Brainstorming with a group of creative people for the first time may make you feel mentally slow, but soon you'll find that you are coming up with more and more new ideas of your own. In fact, you'll start to adopt the creative thinking habits of the other thinkers in the group.

With or without others, though, you have to learn a few techniques to use for generating creative concepts. Here is one such technique to get you started.

Making Crazy Assumptions

A few crazy assumptions can lead to not only more creative concepts, but more useful ones as well. The basic idea is to make silly or unexpected assumptions related to the subject or problem you are working on, and then look for a way to make sense of these. For an example, I will use only ideas that I can come up with as I write this, in order to show that this process can really work right now.

I'll start with the following problem: An environmental organization needs new ways to get volunteers for a series of projects they're working on. Some crazy assumptions that come to mind: They can pay them a million dollars to volunteer; they can force people to participate; aliens will come from outer space to do the work for them. These are not useful ideas by themselves, but now we go to work.

The first assumption (pay a million dollars) leads to the idea for an ad campaign which says, "Want to clean a river for a million dollars?" It would certainly get attention, but can we make sense of this thought? Hmm... a wealthy patron could donate $215,000 for a bond that matures to be worth a million dollars in thirty years. They could have a drawing to win the bond in a year, and anyone who volunteers a certain number of hours is put into a drawing for that "million dollars." They would get free publicity and many new recruits nationally perhaps.

The assumption that they could force people to participate sounds crazy, but what more creative concept can we turn this into? Think about who is already "forced," or "enslaved," like prison inmates. Could they make a deal with local jails to allow inmates incarcerated for non-violent offenses to volunteer on the various environmental projects? The inmates might be happy to get outside, and it could even look good on their record when it's time for parole.

Now, the idea of aliens from outer space doing the work is just wacky, but again we just see where it leads. It makes me think about aliens from other countries, and how they might volunteer. Could the group get lawyers with immigration law experience to offer free "immigration workshops" to those who put in some hours on the groups environmental projects? This could at least attract those legal immigrants with issues that need to be resolved. They get the legal help they need, and the good press they get from volunteering to help the environment might help their cause.

This was five minutes of mental work, and I have no idea how useful these ideas would actually be. But you can see how the process works. You should initially create as many ideas as you can, spending maybe an hour or more at this part. Having a hundred ideas in an evening is not impossible, especially if you know a dozen or more techniques like the one outlined here. After taking notes on many ideas, you pick through what you've created, looking for the few creative ideas which might actually be of some use.

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