10 Fun Strategies for Generating New Ideas

Companies depend on their employees to bring new, innovative ideas to the table. After all, employees are tasked with problem solving and propelling the business forward. But, how exactly do folks generate ideas? Outside of brainstorming, what methods can be explored to identify challenges and come up with useful ideas to solve them? If you’ve ever wondered about what strategies to implement to get creative juices flowing, you’re in luck! In this article, we’ll explore 10 strategies for coming up with great ideas. 

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What is a creative thinking exercise?

A creative thinking exercise can take many forms. At its core, it is an exercise centered around brainstorming, idea generation, problem-solving and communicating abstract thoughts. These sorts of visual, written, and interactive exercises can be done in a group setting or performed alone, using paper and pencils, whiteboards, or multi-modal methods. 

Benefits of Brainstorming & Other Idea Generation Techniques

Creative ideas often come from sharing different perspectives and varied life experiences. But, why should individuals or teams implement idea generation techniques? Well, just keep reading.


Brainstorming allows you to:

  • Embrace new perspectives. What better way to bond as a team than through the sharing of ideas? Brainstorming empowers individuals and teams to embrace new ideas that may vary from their own. 
  • Discover innovative ways to find solutions. Sometimes, it’s hard to come up with creative concepts. However, implementing idea generation techniques empowers folks to sharpen their problem-solving skills. 
  • Improve mental flexibility. Going through the creative process allows you to flex your mental muscles. So, brainstorming or implementing other methods of idea generation is a good way to improve mental dexterity and allow you to make incremental changes to your projects.
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10 Strategies to Help Generate Ideas

Besides brainstorming, how do you generate ideas? Coming up with new ideas can be quite a task when you’re note sure where to start. The good news is that you can implement a technique or two from the list below, to get you started.

  1. Forced Comparisons
  2. Role-Playing
  3. Storyboarding
  4. SWOT Analysis
  5. Word Association Activities
  6. Rapid Ideation
  7. 3 Whys
  8. Thinking Caps
  9. Mind-Mapping
  10. Free-writing

Forced Comparisons

The forced comparison (or forced relationship) method involves the process of drawing parallels from two unrelated subjects. Similar to drawing a Venn diagram, the goal of this idea generation method is to find commonalities between topics (or objects) that appear to be quite different. 

Role-Playing

In addition to traditional brainstorming, consider adding an another element. Role-playing can be a great opportunity to see the world (or a specific problem) through a new lens. To get started, identify a specific brainstorming goal. Then pretend to be a client, user, employee and manager who all interact with this goal (or the central concept) in some way. 

Storyboarding 

Sometimes, the key to innovation is visual stimuli. So, consider adding storyboarding to your idea generation toolkit. Storyboarding can include finding free stock photos, newspaper clippings if you still read a physical paper, or sourcing mixed media visual elements. Alternatively, you can draw! No matter what medium you choose for your storyboard, the key idea is to find inspiration among the images. 

SWOT Analysis

Many companies are familiar with SWOT analysis, as it is a way to measure one’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It is a common method for problem-solving and coming up with new ideas. So, consider implementing it for your solo brainstorming sessions and for group collaborations as well. 

Word Associations

Word association activities can take many forms – from word banking to fill in the blank stories. While rules may vary for each method, the centralized goal is to associate one word with a different one. Doing so, especially in a group setting, can help to identify connections and commonalities between topics; as well as spark inspiration for creative projects. 

Rapid Ideation

We’ve talked about the benefits of rapid ideation before. This brainstorming technique is about coming up with ideas in a prescribed amount of time. The goal here is to get into hyper-focus mode and write down your thoughts without overthinking too much.

3 Whys

Why? Why? Why? Implementing a 3 Why’s method is a fun way to dive deeper into a topic, especially in a group setting. In order to work with this method, start with a central concept. Then question is. Ask why to gather the surface-level details. Then ask why again to gain more pertinent information. By the last “why”, the goal is have the team or individual explore the topic in depth to provide a comprehensive answer.

Thinking Caps

Every heard the phrase, “put on your thinking cap”? For this creative exercise, you’ll need to do just that. This is best suited for groups but can be also be done alone. The goal is to spend time focused a common problem, with each person (or thinking cap) viewing it from a different perspective (i.e. examining a problem by looking at its social, political, and economic impact)

Mind-Mapping

For those who prefer visual methods of idea generation, mind-mapping might be for you. It is the process of starting with a central idea and connecting it with sub-ideas. This is best done in a physical format (such as on a white board or computer screen) because it allows the viewer to see how all of their ideas (or group-shared ideas) are interconnected. 

Free Writing

Have you heard of free writing? It is a creative writing technique that can help generate fresh ideas. This idea generation technique is practiced in academic and artistic environments, as it is a process of letting one’s thoughts flow while one writes, continuously, for a period of time. Unlike rapid ideation, this process usually does not include a focused goal. However, it is worth pursuing to examine the relationships between your thoughts and discover new possibilities for design projects.