In his free eBook “Designing for the Web”, Mark Boulton suggests a 4R approach to brainstorming ideas for a project. While the eBook is geared toward Web Design, those working as Instructional Designers and educators can also benefit from these tips as creative professionals.
Here are the 4 R’s as presented by Mark.
Revolution is turning an idea on its head. Taking assumptions and reversing or removing them. E.g. A pub has four walls and a roof. What if it didn’t have walls, but still had a roof?
Re–express the idea in a different way or point of view. E.g. What if you were five years old and your parents were buying a booster seat for you. What makes a cool booster seat in your eyes?
Think of a related world and use ideas from that world. E.g. Cooking and Gardening. What elements of gardening could be used to sell more recipe books?
Forcing a connection with a random object. E.g. A social networking website and a cactus. Random links often generate ideas which are off brief, but that doesn’t matter. Sometimes, the most truly innovative ideas can come with random links. I’m sure Citroén designers were using Random Links when they decided to make the 2CV look like a snail.”
I would add yet two more R’s of my own:
Sometimes going back to an old concept, a note, a diagram or even just letting an idea sit for while and then reconnecting with it, exploring it further, can produce good results.
When an idea seems to be going south: stop devoting energy to it. Start again from a fresh, new perspective. Go work on another project (if you’re of the multitasking kind) and then come back to the initial point of this project: what is the problem I’m trying to solve?
The ebook can be accessed here: http://designingfortheweb.co.uk/book/part2/part2_chapter9.php