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Have More Creative Solutions Using "What If"

To find creative solutions to problems we need to get our minds looking in new directions. One of the most systematic ways of doing this is to use a list of idea-generating words, primarily adjectives, to create "what if?" scenarios. You begin with the question, "what if it was..." and insert a word from the list. "It" is the the problem you are trying to solve, or the situation or solution that exists at the moment.

An Example

An example will help explain the process. To find creative solutions to the problem of, "not enough parking space for my customers," you ask, "What if it (the parking lot, the problem, the store) was..." and you insert from the list, "smaller." The lot is already too small, but maybe the landscaping or the store could be shrunk to allow for more parking spaces. The word, "distant" might give you the idea to make a deal with the store next to yours to connect your lots. The word, "divided" may cause you to think about painting the lines closer together to fit two more spaces in.

The Word List

Most words on the list won't give you any useful ideas, so go through the irrelevant ones quickly, if you wish. Don't automatically dismiss words, though, without giving them at least a few seconds of thought. A lot of creative solutions begin with unrelated thoughts. "What if it was hopeless?" may seem like a useless question, but it might also bring you to the useful realization that you really need a new location to solve your parking problem.

As with most techniques for finding creative solutions to problems, it is important to allow the ideas to flow without judging them initially. You don't want to stifle the creative process. The time to evaluate your ideas is later, when you are done with this part.

The list that follows is a very basic one. You can use it as is, but there are hundreds of idea-generating words that you could add to it. Any adjective, descriptive phrase, or word that can change your perspective can be potentially useful for discovering creative solutions and ideas.

What if it was...

 larger
 smaller
 farther away
 closer
 sooner
 later
 easier
 more difficult
 softer
 harder
 poorer
 richer
 wetter
drier
higher
lower
longer
shorter
white
black
certain
uncertain
newer
older
calmer
more exciting
boring
interesting
more casual
more serious
divided
combined
subtle
extravagant
more common
less common
faster
slower
better
worse
hotter
colder
added to
subtracted from
left alone
hopeless
stickier
happier
relaxed
imaginary
cheaper
more expensive

Want to be more creative?

Visit the page Increase Creativity.


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