The Lotus Blossom Technique

An organized and visual technique that will generate dozens of new ideas.

Diana Lillicrap 8.18.2011

I once worked with a manager who thought mind mapping was the end-all-be-all of brainstorming techniques. Every time I see one today, I cringe.

Sure, mind maps have their purpose, but they don’t work for everything or everyone. Sometimes—especially with a group that isn’t used to thinking outside the box—you need a bit more structure to ignite free-flow thinking.One of my favorite techniques with a similar outcome is a Lotus Blossom. It was developed by Japanese researcher, Yasuo Matsumura, who put structure to the mind mapping techniques used by T.S. Eliot.

Here’s how it works. First, state your problem in the center circle. Generate eight idea categories around that problem, and then, figuratively “peel back” one petal of the blossom at a time with eight more ideas for each.

LotusFlower_1.jpg

A sample bloom

For illustration purposes, let’s imagine you want to develop communications to launch a new high-end chocolate for the holidays.

The eight idea categories might include items like a special event, public relations, packaging, distribution, partnerships, sampling, advertising, and grass roots marketing.

LotusFlower_2.jpg

Once you have eight different general ideas, you place each into the larger diagram so you can generate eight more specific ideas related to each original idea.

For example, in the event category you might include ideas like an “invitation only” program, a chocolate invitation, or a recipe book. Maybe you could have a celebrity appearance at the event or a series of events that take place across the nation. Another idea may be to host a happy hour to introduce the product where you serve chocolate martinis. Maybe the launch event uses chocolate themed décor, or you could send out a media kit made of chocolate and full of samples. The goal is to generate eight interesting and creative ideas all related to the center idea. No answer is wrong. Just put it in for consideration.

LotusFlower_3.jpg

Once you have completed the eight ideas for the first category, move on to the next category and go through the same exercise.

From 0 to 64

By the time you’re done filling out the Lotus Blossom you will have 64 different ideas for your product launch. And if you want to dive deeper into any one idea, you can always create another blossom, putting your favorite idea in the center and building 64 more ideas around it.

The possibilities are endless, but the process is organized and manageable on your own or in any group setting.

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