Generate original thinking

Random starting points (or random entry points), (or random external stimulus technique)

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LET’S GIVE IT A TRY 

Reductions on the roads

Task: Devise a completely original idea to help reduce the road toll, carbon emissions and average travel times all with ONE simple innovation.

Let’s generate a RANDOM STARTING POINT.

Pick up any book, magazine or newspaper and open it to any random page, then select a keyword from the second paragraph. The word I found was “magnet”.

How could a magnet be used to achieve these objectives?

  • We could fit magnetic swipe cards underneath all vehicles to identify weight, speed, fuel efficiency, braking capacity, typical load, trailers etc.;
  • Traffic light intersections scan vehicles to determine the most fuel and time-efficient solutions;
  • Warning lights on your dash tell you if you’ll be required to stop and might warn other vehicles if you don’t demonstrate compliance.

Maybe we should update the technology and instead fit all cars with onboard computers that communicate with intersections as they approach to determine the optimum solution,

My final response: SMART INTERSECTIONS. 

(You’ll note that the idea has nothing to do with magnets at all. The Random Starting Point was simply a way of pulling me away from preconceived thinking.

LET’S GIVE IT A TRY 

Sink or swim

A sailing boat hits a reef. The Captain is out cold. A hole in the hull about eight inches across is letting in water at an incredible rate that is too much for the bilge pump to handle . . . you’re sinking. What to do?

Let’s generate a RANDOM STARTING POINT.

You reach into your pocket and remove a coin. You toss the coin into the boat and it lands on a sheet.

Maybe you could use a sheet to put over the hole? NO!

Maybe you block the hole using the sheet somehow with something else? Possibly.

You race below to grab a sheet and you notice the pillows, so you put two pillows together, wrap them tightly in the sheet and jump overboard. Feeding the sheet through the hole until the pillows block any progress, you plug the hole as best you can. Next, you climb back on board and you pull the sheet without pulling the pillows through. The water flow is substantially reduced; the bilge pump can now cope.

Is it the best solution? Possibly not. Probably not. (I actually have no idea).

Sometimes, at a time when we really DO need a solution and a fast solution, lateral thinking can smash through the panic and confusion.

Lateral thinking doesn’t guarantee the best solutions, but it does promise creative solutions regularly and reliably. Sometimes, it will give you superior solutions, and sometimes it will give you AWESOME solutions.

LET’S GIVE IT A TRY 

The complexities of coffee

Business is terrible at your coffee shop to a point that you need to come up with some new ideas … FAST.

Let’s generate a RANDOM STARTING POINT.

I’m currently reading RED NOTICE by BILL BROWDER, so I open a random page (299) and I point to a word (“store”, “department store” actually) and I start my random thinking there.

You could do a joint promotion with a department store? Boring.

You could offer a discount to the staff at the local department stores? Boring.

You could become a department store?

HMMMMMMM!! You could think about some sort of business and income diversification just like a department store maybe. Still, you need more.

You could provide something that compliments what the department stores offer?

I GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!

I could offer lockers, or even cold room lockers while people enjoy a coffee and take a moment to relax before returning home. Shoppers could unload their burden securely, leaving them with me for a short while as they pick up a few last items or simply browse in a relaxed fashion. Spend $20 and get a free locker in or out of the cold room for 20 minutes.

Next, you create a business model (with space for many more lockers) that can be an international franchise success as shoppers spend more time shopping using the convenience of your coffee shop lockers all over the world. Rename your coffee shop to  “Unload and Unwind”.

If you don’t like my ideas, that’s fine, simply start again with new random inputs. Keep repeating the process until you do find something do you like. Even if you find a great idea early in the process, keep repeating the idea anyway. You WILL succeed eventually if you practice these skills.

Lateral Thinking Lesson 2 – Summary

Random Starting Points are quick and easy to use and give immediate results.

CREATING NEURAL PATHWAYS

That’s enough for today. Please make sure that you practice your new Random Starting Point lateral thinking skill regularly.

YOUR LEARNING JOURNEY PROGRESS

Now you should be able to discuss fluently:

  1. Our education and life experiences can often lead to a “blinkered” viewpoint; and
  2. Random starting points is a lateral thinking skill that can break the shackles of our blinkered thinking.

If you are having any difficulties, or you would like to contact me, please make contact HERE

Michael Muxworthy

Lateral Thinking Author and UFO Chaser

Cover at 30%
We should never have trusted the aliens

4 thoughts on “Lesson 2 – Random Starting Points

  1. Hi Michael

    I have lots of books in my house, but that sounded far too easy and convenient, so I started looking around to see what other resources I could use.

    The first thing I looked at was the TV, but the TV doesn’t have written words, it’s all spoken. I thought about turning on the sub-titles. This works but the words appear and disappear so fast. Then it came to me, the Foxtel TV guide menu. Bingo! The first random word was “family” and the closest verb or noun was “recording”.

    This was a fun exercise and proves there’s no excuse to not use this technique anywhere or anytime.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michael

    Referring back to my earlier comment about alternatives for generating Random Starting Points, I was led to the word “Recording”.

    The problem I had in mind at the time was: “How do I keep on top of my housework?”

    I’m a busy full-time working mum, and this is one problem I have never been able to get on top of. So using your Randon Starting Point technique, I decided to see if it can help me find a solution using “Recording” as my starting point.

    My initial thoughts were that I could keep a record or a calendar of housekeeping activities, activity duration and frequency and overlay it with my busy working mum’s calendar. That way I can identify the ideal cleaning windows for the small 15 minute jobs (eg throw on a load of washing between soccer training and cooking dinner on Tuesday nights) and the larger 1-2 hour jobs that really only fit in on weekends between soccer games, family outings and shopping (eg clean the bathroom, vacuum and mop the house).

    Sounds orgnanised, and as a Virgo, I love the idea of lists and calendars and being in control. But the reality is, although I love the idea of it, I’m rarely in control of these ‘windows’ as life is life, and in my world, priorities change from hour to hour. In fact, by undertaking this, I’d probably be creating more stress because there would be no way I could possibly stick to it and would feel like I was constantly failing. Also, the time it would take to set up, update and maintain this calendar, I could have achieved more around the house!

    So a calendar is out, however I could have a simple list of the weekly housekeeping activities on the fridge. No dates or deadlines, just activities (do it once, then leave it). And the most important breakthrough for me, is to break it down into bite sized 15-minute-only-more-realistic-to-achieve-activities, that can slot in whenever a window presents itself. So instead of the laborious chore of 1 hour to clean the whole bathroom, what’s wrong with just doing the toilet and shower in one go, and then the floors the next day, then sink and benchtop the next etc).

    To make the jobs even quicker, I can make sure I have the specific cleaning tools either in or close to, each room. I swear running around finding which bathroom the Toilet Duck is in drives me crazy and wastes time.

    By having the master list on the fridge, I can also use it to engage my boys in being more helpful around the house, and set an expectation that they need to complete, say 4 x 15 minute activities each a week. Sometimes there will still be the bigger stuff, but if I keep on top of the smaller bits, the bigger won’t seem so big.

    It seems like a simple, realistic and flexible solution, and therefore achievable. I sure hope so!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that is exactly how to use this process. Try to use it once a day, even when you are driving. The R.S.P. could be the first word you can make with numberplates in sight at one time.

      Well done

      Like

  3. Great, make that brilliant, effort, but I am a little concerned that you may have jumped 15 lessons ahead. Random Starting Points (as I have described in lesson 2) are the choice of a SINGLE word, or a SINGLE RANDOM ENTRY POINT. For example, if your objective was to find something that was good for your family to do together, and then you went to the TV guide and found the word “recording”, your idea might be to have fun with your family recording some typical family hi-jinks.

    The marrying together of TWO random inputs is awesome creativity, especially for games and such. I once performed 2 random starting point creativity with Edward De Bono himself. It is a great random idea generator but in these early stages, I want you to focus on applying a random starting point to your real life situations/problems/objectives/hopes.

    The R.S.P. does NOT need to be a word. It can be an image (You open an advertising email and pick the fifth image), a sound (the first thing you here is a bird chirping), etc, etc.

    Creativity should never be limited, but it is good to take small tangible steps at a time that deliver real benefit. Please let me know how you go applying this process to a real-life situation.

    MM

    Like

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