Creative Thinking Techniques – Part 1 – Combining

“Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected.”

William Plomer

First in the series of creative thinking techniques blogs.

“I’m not very creative…”

I’m sure many people think that.

Just because you are not Banksy or Paloma Faith, doesn’t mean you can’t be creative in the workplace. Especially with the right tools and a little practice.

And being creative doesn’t need lots of time; you can get results in just a few minutes.

To help you get a little more creative at work, here is the first in a series of simple creative thinking techniques.


This technique involves combining things together to generate ideas.
As a brief worked example, imagine you worked for a Train company and have been tasked with generating more passenger revenue. The very obvious solution is to charge more, but that is likely to reduce rather than increase passenger numbers so that may actually be detrimental to overall revenue.

So instead, let’s try a more creative approach.

This technique involves listing a number of different day to day things and combining them with your problem.

If we fine-tune the actual problem a little and look at how to maximise the revenue for a single train carriage.

Then, list some everyday things, the more random the better;

Going to the gym
A Library
A guitar
Ice cream
Italy etc…

Then, take each of the things on the list and combine it with the problem and see what ideas are triggered;

Going to the gym – could you turn a carriage into a mobile gym? So people can Train while they take the train….and instead of insipid tea and coffee, selling a range of healthy food and drink at premium prices. Regular commuters could save money on gym membership and pay an significantly enhanced ticket price to access the gym carriage.

Library – turn a carriage into a quiet reading space with comfy seats. With books for sale or rent for the journey to generate more income – think Waterstones on wheels. Travellers may pay a premium for guaranteed peace and quiet…

Guitar – how about music lessons on the move? With an onboard instructor?

Ice cream – partnering with a manufacturer to sell ice cream in the summer with a portable ice cream stall – charging a commission for any sales made…

Italy – for regular commuters – learn to speak a foreign language – setting up a carriage as a language lab with built-in headphones. Or maybe pasta cooking demonstrations in the buffet car at lunchtime, with passengers getting to learn while they eat…

I appreciate not all the ideas may be that practical nor necessarily commercially viable, but the aim of this is to generate some new ideas that haven’t been looked at before. Then, with proper evaluation, hopefully, some of the ideas may end up as more workable solutions.

All generated in about 5 minutes…

If you would like some help making your business more creative and innovative, drop us an e-mail…

Or get creative and send a carrier pigeon…or use morse code….or send smoke signals…

Campbell Urquhart
Managing Director

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