Here’s a simple and effective brainstorm technique entitled a “New Point of View.” Based on the principles of metaphors (using ideas from one area to solve problems in another), this exercise takes solutions common in different occupations and transfers them to another field.
How To Use New Point-of-View
1. State the problem preventing the objective or outcome from being achieved, or the opportunity to be leveraged.
Ask: How do we get employees to notify the head office when an event might turn into an issue or crisis?
Or, re-frame the problem/opportunity. Ask: What early-warning or preventative devices could we use internally to alert the company of a potential issue or crisis?
2. Select random, unrelated occupations to determine how they might solve the problem or leverage the opportunity.
A politician uses public polls, a chef uses a clock timer, a lifeguard uses flags, a conductor uses a baton, a policeman uses a speed-camera. How can we ‘bend’ or adapt these devices into ideas which might suit our needs?
You might also try this variation.
1. Focus on one specific occupation, such as a farmer. Ask: What are the early-warning or preventative devices a farmer would use?
A veterinarian to prevent potential disease in the animals, a cattle dog to signal of wild animals, a weather vane to show sudden changes in the weather, a scarecrow in the fields to scare off crows, a broad-brimmed hat to protect the head from a strong sun.
2. Next, transfer the metaphor to the original problem or opportunity.
Vet/doctor Ask: Can we appoint an expert outside the organization to help, or assign people inside the organization to become our experts?
Animal Ask: Can we create a mascot for the “early-warning campaign,” such as a St. Bernard?
If a particular occupation doesn’t stimulate an idea, or is no longer useful, quickly move on to another, and another.
I’ve used many occupations as thought-starters, but here’s a list I’ve compiled on jobs which tend to work nicely, because they’re descriptive and the job itself has lots of tasks or responsibilities.
Here are my suggestions for occupations.
Air Traffic Controller
Chief Executive Officer
Child Care Worker
Foreign Language Teacher
Lawyer or Solicitor
Pharmacist or Chemist
Real Estate Agent
This technique has many variations. What you have you tried in your brainstorms? Have you used metaphors as brainstorm techniques?