Trigger Questions for Synectics

SUBTRACT ADD TRANSFER EMPATHIZE ANIMATE
SUPERIMPOSE CHANGE SCALE SUBSTITUTE FRAGMENTATE
ISOLATE DISTORT DISGUISE CONTRADICT
PARODY PREVARICATE ANALOGIZE HYBRIDIZE
METAMORPHOSE SYMBOLIZE MYTHOLOGIZE FANTASIZE
REPEAT COMBINE

SUBTRACT

Remove certain parts or elements
Compress or make it smaller
What can be reduced or disposed of?
What rules can you break?
How to simplify?
How to abstract, stylise or abbreviate?

ADD

Extend or expand
Develop your reference subject
Augment, advance or annex it
Magnify, make it bigger
What else can be added to your idea, image, object, material?

TRANSFER

Move subject into a new situation
Adapt, transpose, relocate, dislocate
Adapt subject to a different frame of reference
Move subject out of its normal environment
Transpose to a different historical, social, geographical setting
Adapt a bird wing model to design a bridge
How subject can be converted, translated, transfigured?

EMPATHIZE

Sympathize with subject
Put yourself in its shoes
What if subject has human qualities?
Relate to subject emotionally, subjectively

ANIMATE

Mobilize the visual and psychological tensions
Control the pictorial movements and forces
Apply factors of repetition and progression
What human qualities subject has?

SUPERIMPOSE

Overlap, place over, cover, overlay
Superimpose dissimilar images or ideas
Overlay elements to produce new images, ideas, meanings
Superimpose elements from different perspectives, disciplines, time
Combine sensory perceptions such as sound and color
Superimpose several views to show different moments in time

CHANGE SCALE

Make subject bigger or smaller
Change time scale - seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years
Change proportion, relative size, ratios, dimensions

SUBSTITUTE

Exchange, switch or replace
What other idea, image, or material can you substitute?
What alternate or supplementary plan can be employed?

FRAGMENTATE

Separate, divide, split, dissect
Take your subject or idea apart
Chop up, disassemble it
What devices can divide it into smaller increments?
How to make it appear discontinuous?

ISOLATE

Separate, set apart, crop, detach
Take only part of your subject
"Crop" your ideas with a "mental" viewfinder
What element can you detach or focus on?

DISTORT

Twist subject out of its true shape, proportion or meaning
Make imagined or actual distortions
Misshape it, yet produce unique metaphoric/aesthetic quality
Make it longer, wider, fatter, narrower
Melt, crush, bury, crack, tear, torture, spill something on it

DISGUISE

Camouflage, conceal, deceive, encrypt
Hide, mask, "implant" subject into another frame of reference
Conceal by mimicry, like chameleons and moths
Create a latent image that communicate subconsciously

CONTRADICT

Contradict the subject's original function
Contradict visually and intellectually, yet remain structurally integrated
Contradict laws of nature such as gravity, time, human functions
Contradict normal procedures, social conventions, rituals
Contradict optical and perceptual harmony (eg. illusions)
Deny, reverse

PARODY

Ridicule, mimic, mock, burlesque or caricature
Make fun of your subject, roast it
Transform it into a joke, limerick or pun
Make zany, ludicrous or comic references
Make a humourous cartoon drawing of the problem

PREVARICATE

Fictionalise, "bend" the truth, falsify, fantasize
Use subject as a theme to present ersatz information
Interprete information differently to mislead or confuse

ANALOGIZE

Draw associations
Seek similarities between things that are different
Compare with elements from different domains, disciplines
What can I compare my subject to?
Make logical or illogical associations

HYBRIDIZE

Cross-fertilise - wed subject with an improbable mate
What would you get if you crossed a _____ with a ______?
Cross-fertilise color, form and structure
Cross-fertilise organic and inorganic elements
Cross-fertilise ideas and perceptions

METAMORPHOSE

Transform, convert, transmutate
Depict your subject in a state of change
Change color, configuration
Make structural progressions
Make aging (cocoon-to-butterfly) transformation
Make "Jekyll and Hyde" transmutations

SYMBOLIZE

A visual symbol stands for something other than what it is
Design an icon for your idea
How can your subject be imbued with symbolic qualities?
Public symbols are cliche, well-known and understood
Private symbols are cryptic, have special meaning to its originator
Works of art are often integrations of both public and private symbols
Turn your subject into a symbol (public or private)

MYTHOLOGIZE

Build a myth around your subject
Transform your subject into an iconic object

FANTASIZE

Fantasize your subject
Trigger surreal, preposterous, outlandish, bizarre thoughts
Topple mental and sensory expectations
How far out can you extend your imagination?
What if automobiles were made of bricks?
What if alligators played pool?
What if insects grew larger than humans?
What if night and day occurred simultaneously?

REPEAT

Repeat a shape, color, form, image, or idea
Reiterate, echo, restate or duplicate your reference subject in some way
Control the factors of occurrence, repercussion, sequence and progression

COMBINE

Bring things together
Connect, arrange, link, unify, mix, merge, rearrange
Combine ideas, materials and techniques
Bring together dissimilar things to produce synergistic integrations
What else can you connect to your subject?
Connect different sensory modes, frames of reference, disciplines

Last updated: 5th March 1996