Unfolding (From the MDCG tool box)

At any point in a creative-thinking situation, alone or in a group, new solutions emerge when those involved force themselves to think in an arbitrarily different way.

Unfolding: Gradually unfolding the real problem from the outside. unfold

When to use it
Use it to create many different ideas.
Use it when people in the creative group are likely to be biased by preconceptions.
Use it to prolong the creative period, allowing a wide range of ideas to be created.

How to use it
Select a group of uninvolved people
- For your creative group, bring together a group of people who do not know about the problem. These can have expertise in the general area in which you are seeking solutions or may be generally creative people.
Explore the outer concept
- Do not tell them what the problem is. Tell them first about the outermost concept, or perhaps an analogous situation and ask for ideas around this, or just get a conversation going around it and what it really means.
Gradually unfold into the topic
- When the ideas or conversation has reached a suitable point, add further detail that moves things a bit closer to the actual problem. Repeat the discussion or idea creation from the previous step.
Gradually, one step at a time, unfold the discussion into the main problem topic. By the time you reach the end point, you will have explored far more widely than if you had dived straight into the problem.

I am seeking ideas for the company summer picnic. I start the session with a discussion about motivation, then discussing the company as a family, involvement of employees' families and what family groups enjoy doing. This results in a deeper understanding of the overall problem. Thus the idea for a picnic turned into a weekend camp, where people could get to know each other better and the company as an extended family grows and becomes more diversely cohesive.

How it works
When people know about a problem, they cannot help but bring along a whole set of subconscious biases about the situation. The mind focuses on the areas in which it is comfortable, seeing familiar patterns and missing things that could be important.

MDCG has a series of tools for creating ideas, by exploring different methods of thinking that will help those who use them produce surprising and useful results. I will be posting techniques, tools and methods from our series regularly here, so check back often!