Generating Creative Ideas with Hieroglyphics

Using hieroglyphics for ideation is an unusual but potentially viable lateral thinking technique from Tom Wujec's excellent book, Five Star Mind.

Unusual or random stimuli can often serve as powerful catalysts for personal brainstorming. From picking random words out of a dictionary or magazine to environmental creativity – where objects and people in your immediate area are used as stimuli – there are numerous techniques to jump-start your lateral thinking capabilities.

By far one of the most unusual that I’ve uncovered lately can be found in Tom Wujec’s excellent brainstorming book, Five Star Mind: Games and Puzzles to Stimulate Your Creativity and Imagination – hieroglyphics. That’s right: Egyptian pictographs. They are rich with meaning and can really help to get your mind moving, Wujec says – and I have to agree. This is a simple, brilliant ideation technique.

Here’s how to utilize this technique

  • Find an image of hieroglyphs (Google Image Search is a great start) or use the public domain PDF of typical characters that I found during my search for a suitable source for them.
  • Use the pictographs to make up a story about your current creative challenge. What ideas come to mind from making these visual associations? How do these images lead your thinking in new directions.
  • Alternatively, take a temporary “creative excursion away from your your situation for now. Wujec explains: “The figures of people can represent… clients. A wave pattern could represent assets or liabilities. Imagine how you might interpret these shapes if you were thinking about writing a mystery novel, starting a frozen yogurt business or making up an ad campaign for a new soup.”
  • Take what you’ve learned from this creative excursion and then try to apply it to solving your current challenge.

Why not give this unique ideation technique a try? I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results!

By Chuck Frey

About the author

Chuck Frey Senior Editor, founded InnovationTools.com and served as its publisher from its launch in 2002 until the partnership with Innovation Management in 2012. He is the publisher of The Mind Mapping Software Blog, the definitive souce for news, trends, tips and best practices for visual mapping tools. A journalist by trade, Chuck has over 14 years of experience in online marketing, and over 10 years experience in business-to-business public relations. His interests include creative problem solving, visual thinking, photography, business strategy and technology. His unique combination of experience and influences enables him to envision new possibilities and opportunities.

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