Make a Wish

A brainstorming technique that forces you to simplify your problem.

Wendy Ruyle 4.09.2013

Here’s another brainstorming technique for problem solving that forces you to oversimplify the problem in order to get your mind thinking big picture. All you do is make a wish.

Where to start

No matter how detailed your problem is it helps to start by simplifying and then working your way back to complex. Start by identifying your problem. (If you need help with that, check out this post by Diana.) Always assign someone to be in charge of facilitating a brainstorming session. They’ll keep you on track and make sure you have time to think creatively and edit judiciously.

Write your problem on a board. Ask your participants to pretend they can wish for anything they want to solve the problem. Give them some quiet time to come up with their wishes individually. The wishes can be as imaginative as they want. For example, if the problem is “We need to impress our customers at the upcoming trade show,” some wishes might be: “I wish we could give them all a million dollars” or “I wish we could be rock stars.”

This first step allows the group to think creatively by being absurd with their wishes.

List and elaborate

Each participant should pick a favorite wish from the ones they’ve come up with on their own. Write each of them around the problem on the board. One-by-one, go through the wishes and list out ways they could be accomplished realistically and elaborate with specifics. For the million dollar wish, perhaps you give each customer a candy bar that looks like a gold brick, or you hand out “dollar bills” that have giveaways or tips from your organization on them.

For the rock star wish, maybe you rent out a nearby club for a VIP happy hour that includes entertainment. Maybe you make a video for your booth using a popular song.

Do this for each wish. By the time you are done, you’ll have dozens of tactical solutions to your original problem. They may have been inspired by a fantastical whim, but now you’ve made them tangible.

Judge, edit, and refine

Lastly, go through each idea and judge them critically. Which ideas are possible to accomplish within your budget and timeframe? Which ideas will inspire your customers? Which ideas solve the problem the best? Do some research if needed then edit and refine the concepts until you have your plan in place.

Approaching problems with this technique will help you step outside the ordinary and make connections you might never have considered. All your wishes might not come true but your problem will be solved.

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