The background theme of this blog is balloons. I chose it since it depicts very well the subject of this blog, with our creative ideas floating around just as balloons freely dancing out of our mind. A metaphor about what our creative thinking should be.
It turns out that there is a very good technique created by one of my favorite creativity gurus, Arthur VanGundy. And the name of this tool is incidentally “balloons”. Isn’t it a lovely coincidence? Nevertheless behind this childish name you can find a very powerful technique, quietly waiting and hidden but expecting to jump and show its creativity thrust. As many other techniques, this one is based on serendipity, but it also provides a given amount of joy which actually transforms the technique in a very relevant tool to bear in mind. Creativity is proven to be enhanced by a proper mental state by the people involved. Playing is a very good way of tuning up this mental state. Since this technique combines creativity and joy in a perfect mixture making them work in harmony, results are guaranteed!
It is specially usable for products improvements, trying to enhance its characteristics, find new uses, and generally speaking differentiating the product from current standards in the market. Do you want to know how it works?
1) Prepare the session in advance by getting some balloons in two different colors, let’s say red and green.
2) The team must write on several notes the parts or attributes of the product being improved, and these elements are put inside a balloon each (red ones, for instance). Let’s suppose we are the manager of a company which manufactures plastic bottles, who is interested in improving them by looking into a new design. For instance, some of the words written by the people are cap, shape and size.
3) The team members use the other balloons (in this case green ones) for putting stimulation elements inside. Strange sentences must be written in order to promote creative ideas. Sentences must be simple (a noun and adjective is usually enough). An example for our team may be “crying elephants”, “freezing chair” and “silent pane”.
4) All balloons are blown up, mixed and randomly distributed inside the room where the creative session is going to take place. The people is sorted out in couples or trios and they all are asked to pick a couple of balloons -one of each color-. The aim is linking attributes with sentences and explore the meaning of the combination.
Hence, some examples of the random combinations may be “cap silent pane”, “size crying elephants” and “shape freezing chair”.
Does “cap silent pane” suggest you a transparent cap? Maybe a stick plastic film for small bottles, substituting the traditional cap which closes the bottle. This new “cap” would be removed for consumption and it would be very useful for small bottles.
Does “size crying elephants” make you think of a bottle with special caps with a tiny hole to allow liquid to be pushed out of the bottled by squeezing it? It’s a way of not having to uncap it for pouring the liquid out. And how about enormous bottles as a way to differentiate your product?
Does “shape freezing chair” talks about special molds to be used for ice sculptures? A new product to create ephemeral decorative elements for the winter? Your garden full with these sculptures?
Fun is ensured. Writing notes, putting them inside the balloons, blowing them and exploding them is an excellent way of starting a creative meeting. Don’t you think so? Just try, and check it. Amusement for sure. And above all, highly creative ideas too!
Hail to the creativity!