Thinkpak by Michael Michalko
Published by Ten Speed Press © 1994 Michael Michalko
Reproduced with permission of the author
This exercise involves starting with a central theme or problem and working outward, using ever-widening circles or "petals." Central themes lead to ideas that themselves become central themes, and so forth. The unfolding themes trigger new ideas and new themes.
1. Copy the diagram above [by clicking on the image above for a larger image, or downloading an Excel 4 spreadsheet]
2. Write your central theme or problem in the diagram's center.
Think of related ideas or applications and write them in the surrounding circles (those labelled A through H). For instance, one company's central theme was "establishing a creative climate." They surrounded this statement in the central box with: "offer idea contests," "create a stimulating environment," "have creative-thinking meetings," "generate ways to 'get out of your box'," "create a positive attitude," "establish a creative-idea committee," "make work fun," and "expand the meaning of work."
4. Use the ideas written in circles ADH as central themes
for the surrounding boxes.
So, if you had written "create a stimulating environment" in circle A, you would copy it into the circle labeled A directly below, where it would become the central theme for a new box, and so on.
5. Try to think of eight new ideas involving the new central theme, and write them in the squares surrounding it. Use the idea stimulators to help you generate ideas. Fill out as many boxes as you can.
6. Continue the process until you've completed as much of the diagram as you can.
7. Evaluate your ideas. One of the ideas a company adopted was to provide a special room for creative thinking. They stocked it with books on creativity, videos, educational toys and games, beanbags, modeling clay, and so on. It was decorated with pictures of the employees as babies, as a reminder that we are all born innocent and creative.
An unemploued marketing executive used the lotus exercise to generate ideas he needed to land a job. His central theme was "job". One of the ideas surrounding this central box was "create a resume." "Resume" then became a new central theme and, using the idea stimulators, he came up with a number of variations on the idea of a resume. For example, he took out ads in several papers with the bold headline, "$50,000 Reward." The fine print underneath explained that an employer could save $50,000 by not paying a headhunter to find a person with his marketing talents. When interested employers called the number listed in the ad, they heard a recording of his resume. He received forty-five job offers