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Welcome to the Random Word tutorial
How to use the Random Word technique
The first thing you need is the random word itself which is classed as the initial stimulus. Next, you establish a bridging idea, which is an idea based on the stimulus. This is used, as the name implies, as a bridge between the stimulus and an idea which you could actually use on your problem. The simplest way to get a random word is using our dedicated software (Brainstorming Toolbox) to give you a random word at the touch of a button.
Quick example 1:
Using the random word "Balloon" in the context of new ideas about cars.
Quick example 2:
Using a random word of "Spacecraft" in the context of new ideas about kitchens.
Where you get the random word is up to you. The quickest and most random way to get one is by using computer software. If you don't have that, flip though a dictionary and stop randomly, or pick a random page, paragraph and word from a general interest magazine.
You are welcome to use our free web version (which contains one hundred words) to show you how useful it can be.
One you have got a random word, there are many ways of using it, including:
Use the following as an example:You are working for a car manufacturer in the wheel department and are trying to come up with some new ideas about the wheel (without reinventing it!) Imagine you are now given this random word: toothbrush! What are your initial thoughts? Probably something like "How on earth is this relevant?" or "What a silly idea, they're totally unconnected". But before we go on, spend a couple of minutes trying to come up with a few ideas.
Ok, here are some examples of ideas you might have come up with (including some working through of the thinking process behind them, which you would not normally write down):
Replacing the wheel with a toothbrush:
Bridging ideas:Imagine the whole tyre of the wheel is made of toothbrush bristles. What are the advantages?
(PS tyre = tire using US spelling)
Features of a toothbrush:
What are the benefits of a toothbrush?
Things to watch out for when using the techniqueYou must be careful not to decide that a specific word is of no use and getting another instead. If you do this then you are more likely than not just trying to choose a word which neatly fits into the problem you are trying to solve; effectively you don't really end up with a random word. Again, the skill is to work out HOW the word can be made to fit.
Be careful not to create too many steps between the random word as a stimulus and the creation of a relevant idea, or you may run the risk of ending up with an idea you already know works. eg. A suggests B, which suggests C, which suggests D - which is the idea we're already using.
You also have to train yourself not to link the word with an idea you already know about. You should not take the word at face value. You must guard against using the technique to come up with an old idea to show that the old idea is good, eg. I already like the idea of using brushes on the inside of the wheel arches to clean the tyre so I will link "toothbrushes" to a wheel to come up with the same idea. Wow, it must be a good idea because this random technique came up with it.
Other things to bear in mindSome words will work and others will not, depending on the problem and on the individual involved. No word is guaranteed better than another, it just depends on the situation. You could use a large number of words for each problem or a small number but if you find yourself using a large amount then you should question yourself as to how you are using the word. You may be just searching for a word to fit with an idea you have already. Of course, sometimes using a continuous stream of different words can get a large number of ideas too, but ... c'est la vie.
You can also use the random word technique for assessing the current situation. Often by having a word in front of you, you are stimulated to think about different aspect of the problem. Eg. when I brush my teeth the forces on the toothbrush are in all different directions; is there a problem with having suspension which only goes up and down?; or, when I was a child I hated brushing my teeth, so is the problem with a lot of car journeys that the people in the back hate being there because they cannot see anything?
Often using a random word can just remind you of something which you knew all along but you had forgotten to write down in your investigation. If you have dozens of aspects to a problem, and even if you feel you know them all, it can still be tricky to recall them all when it comes to actually writing them down. A random word can often help remind you of them again.
A similar technique, and the next technique to be explained, is the Random Picture Technique which uses a picture as a stimulus instead of a word. Some people find it easier to use pictures rather than words, others vice-versa. You will have to experiment to see which suits you best. Some people, of course, find both techniques work equally well for them but for different aspects of different probortunities.
Try the random word technique for yourself and you will certainly improve at coming up with new ideas.
Get a random word now - click here for the free interactive technique or try a 30 day trial of our specialist software (Brainstorming Toolbox) to make random words appear on your screen.
To move to the next technique (the Random Picture technique), click on the green door to continue the green (Advanced Brainstorming) tour.
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