Brainstorm with the Random Stimulus Creativity Technique

Random Stimulus Creativity Technique for Brainstorms & Innovation

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Random Stimulus Creativity Technique for Brainstorms & Innovation

As business problems evolve in complexity, generating original creative ideas for innovative solutions can be quite challenging. One popular creative technique to bypass this hurdle and instigate new ideas is the ‘random stimulus’ method. This powerful technique, inspired by Edward de Bono’s lateral thinking concept, aids in addressing the creative block that often creeps in during brainstorming sessions.

Our brains often take the well-trodden path of least resistance. They do like to be comfortable, which is lovely and cosy for us (and them!), but doesn’t help us if our thinking is stuck.

Having a deep, directional train of thought can be brilliant if we feel we are on the right track and have cracked whatever it is we are working on. Sometimes though it can feel unsatisfactory when we know that what has got us here will not get us there. We need to reduce our left brain attention and trigger our right brain into action.

At these times, we need something disruptive to overcome our ‘stucks’. This is where the random stimulus creativity technique comes in handy.

What is the Random Stimulus Creativity Technique?

The random stimulus technique is a simple but effective tool for creative thinking. This method encourages the generation of new ideas and solutions by introducing an unrelated thing or ‘random input’ into a brainstorming session. The input could be in the following forms: a random word, a random object, a random picture, or a random page from a book. The first step is to understand and explore the full meaning of the word or to delve into the essence of the object or picture.

A key advantage of this method is that it enables easier access to a wealth of information from the subconscious mind. This technique allows for the formation of new associations and promotes lateral thinking.

Lateral Thinking with Paul Sloane Video

Bunches of Bananas

The random stimulus creativity technique is an adaptation of Tudor Rikards‘ bunches of bananas creativity technique.

‘Bunches of bananas’ is a metaphor for introducing a somewhat random theme or topic into discussions to unblock and stimulate new thoughts. The name ‘bunches of bananas’ is just because it’s pretty random. I think it also reminds me of how monkeys’ attention shifts as soon as bananas appear on the scene, but that’s a personal view!

This is how to use bunches of bananas as an unsticker in a meeting. In some ways it’s similar to how people often use humour to lighten tension or reduce pressure in groups.

  1. Observe the mood and nature of the discussions. Are people locked into one way of thinking? Do they seem stuck?
  2. Think about what you might do or say to unstick the group. Create ‘bunches of bananas’ that match your personality and style.
  3. Just as it matters how you deliver the punchline of a joke for it to work, your delivery of your ‘bunches of bananas’ also needs to have the right timing and tone and have the best effect.
  4. Remember that in many ways the content of the disruption usually doesn’t matter. What is important is the act of disruption.

You can see an example of how ‘bunches of bananas’ works in action here.

How to Apply the Random Stimulus Technique

Here’s how to apply the random stimulus technique in your brainstorming sessions and creative problem solving workshops.

First, ask the team to choose a random stimulus. The choice should be entirely unrelated to your business problem. Select a random word from a book, or online via Google checks or Google Books. For a random picture or object, everyday items can provide a new look at your problem.

If the weather is fine, I ask people to go outside to find and bring back something interesting.

Next, allow each team member to delve into the full meaning of each random word, object or picture. This process is not about making an obvious relationship but more about creating new ways of thinking about your problem. Edward de Bono referred to this as ‘random word stimulation’ or ‘random word technique’.

The human memory operates on laws of association. The random stimuli can act as a sense trigger. It often leads the subconscious mind towards a good solution or new direction. The aim is to stimulate a random thought that acts as the seed of a new idea.

Once the process generates a collection of ideas, the next step is idea selection. Shortlist the best ideas, based on their potential to provide a creative solution to the original problem.

Benefit of Regular Practice

Just as with all creative skills, the random stimulus creativity technique benefits from regular practice. This could help in discovering new inventions or new products and helps refine your creative problem-solving abilities. It could be the key to unlocking new associations or providing a fresh perspective, bringing a sense of things that you might have overlooked.

The random stimulus technique is also great for generating disruptive solutions. It can lead to some groundbreaking ideas coming from the most unexpected sources. Whether it’s a new word, a short sentence, a different page from Google Books, or your own feelings about a favorite feature, these unrelated elements could offer a deeper insight into your business problem.

Relevance in Modern Day Problem Solving

In an era of unprecedented information overload and online content, the random stimulus technique is a unique way to use this wealth of information to our advantage. By randomly selecting stimuli, one can uncover new ways of approaching business problems, thereby ensuring the generation of original ideas.

Notably, this type of subject is particularly useful in brainstorming meetings where a team is facing a creative block. It can trigger a fresh sense of original problem understanding, leading to good solutions, new product ideas, and creative solutions to business challenges.

The next time you’re in a brainstorming meeting, try the random stimulus technique. This method might be the key to tapping into your team’s creative skills and thinking abilities. It’s creative disruption could offer the new direction your team needs. Remember, as per Milo Bono’s interpretation of his father’s work, “The best ideas come from the most unlikely sources.”

How to Use the Random Stimulus Creativity Technique in Your Solo Brainstorm

I suppose that I am like lots of people in that sometimes I need to generate ideas on my own. This is due to things like the nature of the task, when or where I’m working. It can be easier to get into a stuck at these times. There is no-one else to inspire other approaches. So, I will deliberately disrupt my own thinking by jotting down the most random solution or thought I can.

I was working on ideas for blogs and social media and thought I was coming up with pretty similar themes. So, I wrote down the most unrelated words I thought of in the moment, which were ‘broccoli pants’. I’m not sure why, it just shows the sophistication of my inner mind I suppose! 😊

Just this small act of disruption sparked new trains of thought and I came up with some very different ideas. Including this post about ‘random stimulus’. Ideas is a numbers game, and they all don’t have to be good to be useful! The not-so-good ideas are stepping stones to something better.

I hope that you have fun and some great results from using the random stimulus creativity technique. I’d love to hear how to get on!

And if you enjoyed this article, you might also like to try the SCAMPER brainstorming technique here.

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