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Creativity Exercise: Alternative Applications

Creativity Exercise: Alternative Applications


Purpose

You can use this generic creativity exercise to get people think of unusual solutions to problems. The idea of the exercise is to force delegates to think about alternatives and then compare their ideas with other people. You can run the exercise with no particular recommendation or methodology. However, if you are going through this exercise as part of courses on creativity skills or problem solving, then you can ask the delegates to consider a specific method to come up with alternative solutions using your nominated method such as random stimuli, NAF, SCAMPER, pictorial or other methods.

Objective

Identify alternative uses for a given object or several objects used together.

What You Need

  • A series of unusual objects. Alternatively you can ask people to provide these objects. You need one object for each person.
  • Papers

Setup

  • If you are providing the objects, place them all on a table for all to access. Otherwise, ask delegates to place an object in front of them from what they carry today. It is best if they select an object that is unusual and is likely that others don’t have.
  • Divide the delegates to pairs. If you have an odd number of delegates, use a group of 3.
  • Ask each group to take two objects that don’t belong to them.
  • Each group must now brainstorm on ideas to find alternative applications for use of the two objects. They should identify as many alternatives as they can in the given time and write these on paper. The objects can be used on their own or the pair of objects can be used together for a particular novel application.
  • Allocate 10 minutes for this part.
  • Ask groups to return all objects to the table.
  • Ask groups to pick another two objects that is different from what they had before and that it does not belong to them.
  • Ask them to repeat the exercise and give them another 10 minutes.
  • They should record their discussions on paper for the second round too.
  • After the allocated time, bring back all groups together and ask each group to present their ideas on use.
  • Encourage others to provide feedback on novelty of ideas. Get groups to compare their applications if they considered a similar object.
  • Follow with a discussion.

Timing

Explaining the Exercise: 2 minutes

Activity: 10 min round 1 + 10 min round 2 = 20 minutes

Group Feedback: 10 minutes

Discussion

Did you come up with applications that you’ve never considered previously? What did you think of other groups’ ideas? Did you use any systematic process to approach the creativity exercise? Which groups did very well and why? What can you learn from their approach?