Creativity Exercise: Introducing Random Associations

Creativity Exercise: Introducing Random Associations


This is a template for a problem solving exercise that help generates a variety of solutions. The technique can be used in brainstorming or any creative thinking activity. It aims to bring randomness into the activity to stimulate thinking and inject non-obvious ideas into the process. You can also use random visual content. This can be particularly useful for brainstorming on design and artistic values of a product or service.


Use a source of random ideas such as a dictionary to introduce random concepts while brainstorming.

What You Need

  • A source of random words or concepts. Here are a number of options:
    • A dictionary
    • A multi-lingual visual dictionary
    • Online random word generator
  • Blank cards or cards with random concepts written on them. You can either prepare these cards with random words written on them or do this during the exercise. If you are using a visual source, you may need to print a series of random images before the exercise.


  • Choose a particular problem and a brainstorming technique.
  • While the delegates are going through the brainstorming technique, write one random word on a blank card or use one you already have prepared and place it where everyone can see. Read it aloud so everyone becomes instantly aware of the new concept.
  • Participants must think of associations between the new random word and the ideas already considered. This will stimulate the thinking process and may lead to more ideas.
  • The brainstorming is then resumed.
  • Continue periodically to introduce more random concepts into the discussion while it is still in its creative stage.
  • The brainstorming would then continue as normal based on the specific chosen technique.
  • At the end, follow with a quick discussion on the effectiveness of introducing random.


Explaining the Exercise: 5 minutes

Activity: 30 minutes (depends on the chosen brainstorming technique)

Group Feedback: 5 minutes


What happened when new random concepts were introduced? Did it help you think of new ideas that you would not have normally thought of? How useful was this technique? What other sources of random concepts would be ideal for your specific domain?

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