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Tools: Transpositional Thinking Exercise

It’s often easy to get fixed on typical ways to solve a problem.  We get into a routine that can prevent us from more innovative thinking.

Here’s a simple exercise that can help generate a ton of new ideas.

  1. In a small group setting, define the objective you’re trying to achieve.
  2. Then flip the objective to the exact opposite.  For example, if your goal is to increase sales, ask: “how can we decrease sales?”
  3. Have everyone in the group brainstorm ways to achieve that opposite goal.  Post-it notes are usually the best way to collect the ideas.  One post-it note per idea.  Give everyone about 5 minutes.
  4. Line up all the post-it notes in a column on a whiteboard.
  5. Go through each one and write down the opposite of each idea on a new post-its and place them next to the original one.
  6. Expand on each idea.

For example
Original:
Ignore phone calls
Opposite:
Pick up every phone call
Expand:

– Come up with a funny standard greeting to get people’s attention
– Come up with a promotion where you randomly give callers a discount if they come in the store today
– Call loyal customers and thank them for their business

Transpositional Thinking