Our marvelous brains love closure. Give them an open-ended question or statement, and they will work overtime to come up with answers. The Nub Weblog (cited by Curt Rosengren in The Occupational Adventure Weblog – thanks, Curt!) calls it “sentence completion,” and it’s a powerful creative thinking technique. Here’s how it works, in the words of Tim at The Nub:
“1) Take any issue you want to consider. E.g: your relationship with your kids or partner; your relationships at work; your project; your time; your stress — ANYTHING.
2) Now create a sentence stem that focuses on your issue. E.g. If I want to improve my time effectiveness by 5% I must…
3) Then complete the sentence between 6-10 times. Don’t get fixed too long trying to say the right thing, if in doubt, invent – just make sure the ending is grammatically correct.
Example endings could be: If I want to improve my time effectiveness by 5% I must…
…get up 30 minutes earlier
…get to bed earlier
…organise my desk
…stick to my decisions
…accept that I can’t do everything
…keep in mind why I am doing something”
I’ve been using open-ended questions — similar to this technique — for years, and it works very well!