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Karla Brandau, CSP
VP of Research & Development, Tom Randall, walked into the conference
room to start the brainstorming meeting of senior managers at Funky Fun Ice
Cream Bars. They desperately needed new ideas to keep their ice cream bars
from melting so quickly in heat.
started the meeting with these words: "We
just have to come up with some creative ideas for keeping our Funky Fun Ice
Cream Bars from melting so fast when they are sold in the Southern Region.
The Chairman of the Board wants our ideas by noon. Okay...give your ideas to
looked into blank faces. There was a nervous quiet in the room. No one
Have you had a similar experience?
a pause, someone said in a tone of voice that said dummy, "It's a dot
on a poster board."
getting close. Anyone else see this differently?" Tom asked.
could be a tunnel."
a peek hole in a fence."
it's a squashed bug."
think it is the top of telephone pole."
Tom knew it, he had 10 to 15 ideas about what this big black magic marker
spot on the paper really was. (Tip: don't use a red marker unless you want
blood to be part of the answer.)
Tom got the group warmed up, he asked the question again but added some
you are in Atlanta, Georgia. It is August. You are at the Ted (Turner Field)
taking in a Braves game. You and your son are sweltering in the heat and
decide to buy a couple of our Funky Fun Ice Cream Bars. You both take that
first bite. Oh, the cool refreshing relief. Before you get back to your
seats, however, the thing is dripping all down your clothes and leaving a
trail anyone could follow. The next day when you walk into work at Funky Fun
Ice Cream, you start immediately on some ideas to keep the ice cream bar
from melting so quickly. What ideas would you be working on?"
you think this quick opener would make a difference in the kind of responses
and ideas you could generate?
your problem might be, try the creative approach and get your meeting
participants thinking before you try to get ideas out of them.
the two simple steps:
Have something creative and fun for them to do that will get them thinking
outside of the box.
Create your question with vivid imagery.
come up with creative ideas like give them gloves to hold the ice cream bars
with the that radiate cold to keep the bar cold. Make the gloves insulated
on the inside so the fingers don't get frozen.
Sample Starters Just For You
The Many Shapes in a Square
The Bug In the Box.
this bug on the inside or the outside of the box?
It depends on your perspective.
the participants laughing by double meanings. Just look in any newspaper and
you are sure to find two or three funny headlines.
Went Wrong In Jet Crash Expert Says
What do you get when you combine the Godfather with a lawyer?
An offer you can't understand.
He takes the psycho path.
a word puzzle out of problems you want challenging answers for. Divide the
attendees into two teams and see who can find the most words in 10 minutes.
Be sure to award prizes.
them an inspiring story about how creativity resulted in a triumph. This
picture shows Dick Fosbury who combined physics and engineering principles
to create the "Fosbury Flop." People initially laughed at him but
his creativity won him a Gold Medal for the high jump in the 1968 Olympics.
Flash Back To Childhood.
them each a piece of paper and have them make a paper airplane. Award prizes
for the one that flies the farthest, has the best design, made the most
Four men went fishing. They caught six fish altogether. One man caught
three, another caught two, one caught one, and one didn't catch anything.
Which man caught how many fish? What did each of the fishermen use for bait?
The one who caught two fish wasn't Sammy nor the one who used worms.
The one who used the flatfish didn't catch as many as Fred.
Dry flies were the best lure of the day, catching three fish.
Torkel used eggs.
Sammy didn't use the flat fish.
Fred, using worms, caught one fish. Sammy, using dry flies, caught three
fish. Torkel, using eggs, caught two fish. Joe, using flatfish, caught no
fish at all.
Wolf, The Goat, and the Cabbage
are traveling through difficult country, taking with you a wolf, a goat and
a cabbage. All during the trip the wolf wants to eat the goat, and the goat
wants to eat the cabbage, and you have to be careful to prevent either
come to a river and find a boat which can take you across, but it's so small
that you can take only one passenger at a time - either the wolf, or the
goat, or the cabbage.
must never leave the wolf alone with the goat, nor the goat alone with the
how can you get them all across the river?
Take the goat across. Go back. Take the wolf across. Bring the goat back.
Take the cabbage across. Go back for the goat. Then the goat is never alone
with either the wolf or the cabbage.
by stressing that everyone in the room is dependent on the others. To
illustrate your point, ask participants to identify someone in the room they
depend on for success.
first person is given a ball of string and picks out someone she/he has
identified to throw it to. The person throws the ball of string at the
co-worker and states the nature of that dependency.
works with organizations that want to benefit from confident workers,
synergistic dialogue and innovation. She is the president of People
Skills International, Inc and can be reached at
All articles & website © 1999-2002 Expert
All articles & website © 1999-2002 Expert Magazine