Posted by: magnussonllc | September 7, 2009

Creativity Tools: Random Input

Random Input is a lateral thinking tool that is very useful when fresh ideas or a new perspective is needed for problem solving. Thinking occurs through recognizing patterns.  Reactions to patterns based on past experiences and extensions to the experiences.  It is easy to get stuck inside a pattern where no good solution to our type problem exists. Random input is a technique for linking a different thinking pattern into the one we are in.  This new link brings the experience you have connected to the newly introduced pattern.

Look at the picture below. Do you see the triangle?

 Optical Iluusion Triangle






It actually doesn’t exist. The angles on the three images, however, give the appearance that it does. By seeing things from a different perspective we come up with new patterns. To use Random Input, select a random noun from the dictionary or a prepared word list. It helps if the noun is something that can be seen or touched (e.g. helicopter, dog) rather than a concept (e.g. fairness, loyalty). Use this noun as the starting point for the brainstorming session.

 By selecting a word from an unrelated field in which you have some expertise, you may find that your insights are better. If you choose an appropriate word, you will add a range of new ideas and concepts to your brainstorming session.  While some ideas will be useless, you will still gain some excellent new insight into your problem. If you persist, at least one of these ideas may likely be an unexpected creative leap.


When Campbell’s Soup was brainstorming new ideas for a soup product they used the Random Input tool. Campbell’s was looking for a new kind of soup, or an expansion to their current product line. They randomly chunky bowlpicked the word “apartment.” They then brainstormed around apartment. No logic was involved, they just let the ideas flow – apartment lead to building, build, tools, hammer, saw, drill, knife, which eventually lead to fork. Suddenly, someone on team said, “You can’t eat soup with a fork. It would have to be in chunks to do that.”

 Chunky Soup was born.


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