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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What if? A Creative Question.

You look at a pair of scissors and think, why not use them to cut up salad leaves? (Always supposing you haven't already used said scissors to cut up something dirty and unhygenic, say an oil-soaked rag.) Have you ever used a hand can-opener to cut open those otherwise lethal pre-formed hard plastic new product covers? What about putting a small rag rug underneath a heavy box to pull it across a wooden floor?

In each case you're coming up with new uses for a product meant for something else. And that's what creativity is all about-taking a look at something and saying, what if I used it for this instead?

The technique of "what if?" can be used to stimulate creative thinking. To try it out, take a common object and ask yourself "what if?" to come up with at least five other uses for it. Don't limit yourself to only practical solutions, an idea may sound silly at first, but it can spark a chain reaction that could be a new product.

Here's an example. Take a common household bucket.

1. What if I inverted it and wore it as a hat? (Definitely keep the rain of my head.)

2. What if I drilled small holes in the bottom and hung it from a tree branch? (There's an outdoor shower for you.)

3. What if I inverted it and used it as a stool to reach something from a tall cabinet? (Just how sturdy is this bucket???)

4. What if I drilled a hole in it, threaded a wire fixture through it and used it as a lampshade? (Might be a pretty ugly lamp shade, but if you can't stand looking at a naked bulb, why not?)

5. What if I filled it with sand and left it outside so that my smoker friends would have somewhere to dispose of their cigarette butts? (Again, might not be the Martha Stewart suggestion, but still practical.)

You get the idea. Try practicing the "What if?" technique because you never know when you might need it. For example, I've seen this type of question asked on a job application-the applicant needed to come up with 10 uses for a paper clip. If nothing else, it's a mind exercise to do when you're bored...