Trigger Questions for Synectics
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?
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?
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?
Sympathize with subject
Put yourself in its shoes
What if subject has human qualities?
Relate to subject emotionally, subjectively
Mobilize the visual and psychological tensions
Control the pictorial movements and forces
Apply factors of repetition and progression
What human qualities subject has?
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
Make subject bigger or smaller
Change time scale - seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years
Change proportion, relative size, ratios, dimensions
Exchange, switch or replace
What other idea, image, or material can you substitute?
What alternate or supplementary plan can be employed?
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?
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?
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
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 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)
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
Fictionalise, "bend" the truth, falsify, fantasize
Use subject as a theme to present ersatz information
Interprete information differently to mislead or confuse
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
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
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
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)
Build a myth around your subject
Transform your subject into an iconic object
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 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
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