creative tools for great ideas

There are lots of practical creative tools and techniques in How To Get To Great Ideas. But I want to help you even more. So here’s a selection of free web-tools and templates I’ve created to help you out.

Feel free to use these for yourself or with groups. If you find them useful, bookmark them and share them with your colleagues and friends. If you want your own version of any of these creative tools, just drop me a line.

This page is continually growing as I add more stuff. If you want to find out about new tools as soon as they’re released, sign up to my newsletter.

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Roll yourself a new story whenever you want

This is a free online version of the classic story dice game. It gives you random images designed to spark a completely original tale.

I play this game all the time with my four-year-old. It’s a creative tool that’s helping her exercise her imagination while it’s helping me hone my storytelling and communication skills. We both win!

Give it a roll and tell me how you get on.

Borrow someone else's mind

The Brain-Swap is a creative tool that works in any helps you have ideas that you wouldn’t normally have.

It’s all about helping you think differently by approaching your problem from somebody else’s perspective. For example, if it suggests ‘MacGyver’, you might want to just hack a bunch of things together. If it suggests ‘Kim Kardashian’, you might focus on attracting lots of attention.

If it suggests someone you don’t know, move on. Don’t spoil your flow by disappearing down a Wikipedia rabbit-hole.

Use inkblots to make your own mark

Long before psychiatrists embraced inkblots as a dubious diagnosis tool, they were used to spark creative ideas. It was apparently this use that sparked Rorschach’s interest in the splodges.

This inkblot-based creative tool goes back to the original inspirational use and gives you a couple of techniques to help spark new ideas.

It may also help you discover that you’re a sociopath with an unhealthy fixation on your mother. Which is an added bonus.

 

Never be short of writing ideas with this creative tool

It’s easy to write yourself into a corner. Or find yourself staring fruitlessly at a blank page. I do it all the time.

This creative tool is designed to nudge you out of the rut. Or even supply you with the spark that will lead to an entirely new tale.

It gives you a random character, action, place and object to lead your narrative in new directions. It’s great for writers, parents, advertising creatives and makes a great drinking game, if that’s your thing.

 

Be inspired by another industry

The Industry Switcheroo is a creative tool that helps you identify solutions that other people are already using to solve a similar problem.

You start by stating the kind of problem you’re working on. The broader, the better. Something like “It’s an awareness problem” or “it’s an education problem”.

Then use the web-tool to suggest another industry. Spend some time working out how this industry deals with your type of problem. See if you can apply the approach to your own problem. Stay broad and let it lead you in new and surprising directions.

Warm up with a mash-up

A lot of new ideas are simply a recombination of existing elements. This web-tool flexes your combinatorial muscles by giving you two random items to combine. 

For example, the visual asks you to combine a mousetrap and a volcano. This could give you the idea to create a mousetrap that incinerates the vermin. Or that uses smoke to choke the rodents. In the other direction, it could suggest traps around a volcano to deter thrill-seeking humans from getting too close to the edge of the crater. See if you can come up with three or four ideas for each combination. Or more, if you want a bigger challenge.

This is a great exercise at the beginning of an idea-generation session. Or just as regular mental practice.

Inspiration any time

Over the last few years, I’ve been running workshops showing people how to be inspired by anything. During the session, we write down learnings from great ideas, businesses and works of art.

This creative tool has about 200 of those learnings to prompt you to think differently.

The prompts are particularly helpful for anyone coming up with marketing ideas or tech products. But you may find them useful in nudging your thinking in different directions on other projects too.

Work with the right people

At the end of Chapter 8 of How To Get To Great Ideas, I talk about the importance of working with people who have skills that you don’t have. This worksheet helps you understand the skills you have, the skills you want to learn and the skills you need other people to fill.

Measure your creativity

You can use this test yourself to see how you’re improving or use it with a group to see how you compare. It’s called the Alternative Uses Test and it measures fluency, originality, flexibility and elaboration. See how you get on and send me your score. Or just keep it to yourself, if you prefer! 

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