Today, I’m going to share with you one of the most powerful business techniques you can use to generate creative ideas for your new business says Paul Haarman. It’s so simple, yet so effective. And best of all, it’s free!
The technique is known as lateral thinking and was first popularized by Edward de Bono who wrote the book Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step By Step back in 1970. Here are some of de Bono’s laterals thinking rules that will help you create a mind trick that allows you to quickly come up with creative business ideas:
Rules for Lateral Thinking
1. Rule of Opposites –
Try identifying solutions by looking at problems backwards i.e., find the opposite of what you’re thinking about. For example, if you’re trying to come up with an idea for a new mobile phone, you might ask yourself “What’s the opposite of a mobile phone?” The answer is most likely “A land line”. So now think of creative ideas that could be applied to land lines and there you have your business idea!
2. Delete One Letter –
Try deleting one letter from any word e.g., email => elom or iPhone => ihome then see what different words are created. Can these words give you new creative business ideas?
3. Change One Word –
Change one word in any sentence e.g., “Don’t forget to feed the dog” becomes “Forget the fed dog” or “I’m going to watch a movie” becomes “I’m going to make a move”. Again, see if these give you any business ideas.
4. Stop after First 5 Words –
Take any sentence and stop after the first five words e.g., “Such a good idea that I came up with earlier” becomes “…came up with earlier.” Can this give you new business ideas?
5. Use a Dictionary –
Use a dictionary to define a word in your mind then try coming up with creative ideas based on the definition e.g., if you chose ‘Ink’ from the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means ‘a liquid containing pigments usu. soluble in water that is used for writing or printing or making pictures’. Paul Haarman says so what business ideas could be created from this new definition?
6. Use a Thesaurus –
A thesaurus is a great resource for finding alternative words to use in your mind. See if you can create some creative ideas by using alternative word choices e.g., “I love buying clothes” becomes “I have a passion for apparel”. What other business ideas does this give rise to?
7. Think of Opposites Again –
This time try thinking of opposites, but this time think about the antonyms of common words used in everyday language i.e., think of words that are their polar opposite e.g., Where would you go to find the antonyms of words such as “forward”, “fast” or “introvert”? A thesaurus!
8. Ask Open Questions –
Try asking open questions, rather than closed. A close question would be “Do you have a pet? Yes or No?” An open question would be something like “What kind of pet do you have?” How could this help give creative business ideas?
9. Reverse the Question –
Try reversing the question e.g., if someone asked you “How are you?” try replying with something like “Am I good?” This might lead to some interesting conversations that could eventually lead to new business ideas explains Paul Haarman. Or at least make for excellent dinner party conversation!
10. Take Names Literally –
Take a name literally e.g., if someone’s name is Jack, try coming up with new business ideas using the following questions: “What does Jack need? What would satisfy Jack?” Try asking these kinds of questions for any names and see what ideas you get!
11. Add or Subtract a Letter –
Try adding or subtracting a letter to any word to come up with creative business ideas e.g., digital => magic or car => lar. See what you can come up with and then use them in your business!
12. Replace One Verb with Another –
Replace one verb in any sentence with another i.e., think of different verbs that have the same meaning e.g., run/walk/crawl… What other verbs have this same meaning? Swim, float etc.
13. Change One Adjective into a Verbal Phrase –
Change one adjective into a verbal phrase e.g., nice => to be nice or curious => be curious. What are some new business ideas you can create using these alternative words?
14. Think of Related Words & Combine Sentences –
Think of related words and try combining sentences on your own i.e., coffee maker => machine that makes coffee. Then see if any business ideas arise from it!
15. Replace Two Letters with One –
Try replacing two letters in any word with one letter e.g., replace “f” with “ph” or “v” with “b”. What other words could this work for?
Using these creative thinking techniques can help you generate business ideas that you hadn’t previously thought of says Paul Haarman. If all else fails, just try to have fun with them!