There are several cool tools you can use for thinking. Two of my favorite ones are Mindmaps and Lists.
List of 100 is a great way to really stretch your mind. Here is how you do it. Take a problem or idea. Create a list of 100 things that come to your mind. In the case of a problem, it may be a hundred ways to solve it. In the case of an idea it may be a list of hundred thoughts (typically questions related to – Why, What, Who, When, How, Where).
I first came across the List of 100 here. Since then, I have created lists of 100 individually and in groups. We had great fun doing it and learned a lot. List of 100 is both a thinking tool and a group collaboration tool. Give it a try.
I really enjoyed watching “The Culture of Innovation” from MIT Technology Review.
The talk covers several interesting topics worth exploring.
Permission less innovation and Innovation at the edges
A culture of practice over theory
The concept of Social Investing
Connectivity in Communities
Peripheral vision and Pattern Recognition and how they are the total opposite of focus and execution
Cultures and sub-cultures
My favorite quote from the talk:
We so cherish focus, execution and they are the opposites of peripheral vision, pattern recognition
Peripheral vision and pattern recognition lead to discovering new ways of doing things.
I was talking to a student. He is fascinated with a robot that cleans pipes. He had a prototype and won some awards. He wanted to discuss it.
We sat with him and brainstormed many ideas for the design at a very high level. I encouraged him to think about a different cleaner robot – one that cleans water tanks. Our discussion lasted half an hour and it was one of the most rewarding exercises I did today.
Thinking through the design of products is fun. When you do it as a small passionate group, it is even more fun. One of the reasons I hang out with a lot of engineering students.