Making connections where none existed before is what creativity is all about. Therefore forcing new connections is a very useful and fundamental technique to enhance our creativity.
The essence of this technique is about randomness. Force a connection of your problem at hand with something selected at random. There are practically unlimited possible connections that can be made.
Akio Maita a sales and marketing executive at the Bandai Company in Japan, through her observations created Tamagotchi, a virtual pet which set off a worldwide craze. She had observed that young Japanese liked to flash their portable hand-phones and pocket pagers in the streets of Tokyo. Meanwhile, other Japanese people were keeping tiny pets in their cramped apartments.
Akio made a forced connection between the two phenomena and developed the concept of a portable digital pet. It was an egg-shaped key-chain type of device with three buttons to feed, to give medication, to bathe and to clean up the droppings of the virtual chicken portrayed in the gadget.
Suppose you want to design a new kitchen knife and found the word “clock” by pointing at a word at random in a magazine. From clock you can make a whole series of associations like : time, round, battery, winding mechanism, fast, slow, late, punctual, digital, analogue, round, square, black, green, hands, etc. If any of the words trigger a practical connection , you may stop. If not, you have to carry on or just select one of the word associations that you prefer.
Let’s say you prefer the word “ hands”. Now focus on the characteristic of the hand. The hand can be used for holding things; wear rings on the fingers; play music; shake hands with another; deliver a punch, etc. There is a connection between the knife and the hand holding things. In cutting , you need one hand to hold the knife and another to hold the thing we want to cut. If you are not careful, you may cut your hand! Can we protect your hand from the knife?
Well, you can. You can wear a glove that is hard enough to prevent the penetration of the knife. If it is hard, could you make it flexible enough to bend your fingers and able to grasp the object that you are cutting? After thinking this through, the solution is to have a steel glove made in the form of flexible netting. This product is actually available. It deviates from the original intention of designing a special knife. To be creative, you have to take advantage of the unexpected.
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