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How to extract new ideas from Creative Thinking techniques in brainstorming sessions

After you've acquired a stimulus from a specific technique you need to absorb it and turn it into a useful idea. This page is dedicated to giving you a set of proven methods for modifying the original stimulus into a useful idea.

To download a Word Processing document containing these guidelines, click here (or right click and select Save Target As)
The file is saved as a Rich Text Format (RTF) format for greater compatibility.

Processes for extracting ideas from a stimulus

1. Extract a concept or principle from the stimulus and reuse it
How does it work? What does it achieve?
How does it achieve it?
What does the stimulus do?
In what order does it work?
Who is involved? and why?
2. Extract a feature from the stimulus and reuse it
What are its physical attributes?
Why is it that shape?
What process is involved? and why?
Who is crucial to its success?
What is the timing of events?
3. Extract a positive attribute from the stimulus and try to replicate it
What is good about the stimulus?
Why is the stimulus good at what it does?
How does it succeed?
In what situations does it work best?
4. Extract the differences between the stimulus and the current solution
How do the stimulus and the current solution achieve the same thing, but in a different way? Why does the stimulus do something one way and the current solution another? What is the difference in physical characteristics? What is the difference in process? In what way are they used differently?

Merge the stimulus and probortunity and then reapply the processes of extraction on the mixture

After you have exhausted extracting the initial ideas from the stimulus itself, you should merge the stimulus into the current situation and use the same idea extraction principles described above to the new mixed product. Remember, this involves using your imagination - which is a lot cheaper than physical experimentation - and that you're only using it to stimulate new ideas; it does not matter if the intermediate ideas don't work.

Physically include the stimulus in the current situation and see what happens

  • Force yourself to use the stimulus as a solution (and extract the ideas this creates).
  • Mix the stimulus with the current object/method and extract the good ideas from it (and extract the ideas this creates ...)
  • Imagine what would happen if you followed the process involved with the stimulus within your current process.
  • Examine what happens on a frame-by-frame basis and examine the benefits at each frame. Is there a benefit at one time and not at another?
  • Under what circumstances is the merged solution useful? (A different time, place, culture, market, ...)

Physically include part of the stimulus in the current situation and see what happens

Take a part of the stimulus (eg. a feature, a process, a physical section, a person involved, ...) and place that into the current problem situation and examine what happens. Start extracting the principles and ideas as before. Look at the intermediate idea on a frame-by-frame basis and examine under what circumstances the idea would be useful and generally find some beneficial ideas you can reuse and reapply.


The case when the stimulus is a question

When the stimulus is a question you should do the following:
  • Answer the question directly without embarrassment or inhibition.
  • Answer the question in as many different ways that you can. Most questions have many answers.
  • Answer the question from a variety of different points of view. Give answers from radically opposing views.
  • Answer the principles behind why the question was asked. See the question as asking many things.
  • Answer the question both broadly and in great detail. Summarize and expand on your answers. Answer the larger question too.


By following the above guidelines with each technique, you should be able to extract ideas from every stimulus you are given. You will never be stuck for a new idea if you apply the above guidelines and use the creative thinking techniques to supply you with fresh and original stimuli.

To download a Word Processing document containing these guidelines, click here (or right click and select Save Target As)
The file is saved as a Rich Text Format (RTF) format for greater compatibility.

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