Practical Tools and Wise Quotes on All Matters Creative
Creative tools > Lotus Blossom
Use it when you want to develop creative ideas.
Use it when you are having problems creating more ideas.
Use it when you are trapped by a single mode of thinking.
Use it to create seeds of ideas that can trigger further good ideas.
Describe the problem
Start with a description of the problem you are facing. Write it on a card or Post-it Note and put in in the middle of a large working area.
If you are working in a group, this works well with a vertical work area, such as a wall or large pin-board. You can also use the floor or a large table top.
Surround it with ideas
Use other tools for creating ideas to create a set of ideas on how to solve the problem. These should be as different from one another as possible.
Write each idea on a card or Post-it Note of its own and place it around the problem description. Eight ideas fit neatly, as below. You can also do six, in a hexagonal shape.
In placing the ideas around the original problem, you can put them down in a 'knight's pattern'. This helps mix up the ideas and generate more different thinking.
When you are working in a group of people, engage everyone. Perhaps they could each create a different idea.
Unfold the lotus blossom
Make a copy of each of the idea cards and place them radially further out from the cluster (the stamen and pistil of the flower) that you created in the previous steps.
Now repeat the previous step of the process, surrounding each of the copied idea cards with secondary ideas, using only the copied idea cards as stimuli. This should result in ideas which are further removed from the original problem.
This can lead to many ideas, as in the diagram below. You do not have to fill in every space - if ideas run out, you can move on. Also, if an idea seems to be leading somewhere, you can repeat the whole process ad infinitum until you get somewhere or nowhere.
When you are working in a group of people, you can rotate them around the lotus. Thus a person puts one secondary idea against a copied idea and then moves on to the next copied idea. This creates a dance around the ideas, moving the thinking on at each step.
Seek practical answers to the problem
Look around the many ideas you now have and seek to link some of these back to the original problem, using them as stimuli for more practical solutions that may be implemented.
I have a problem of how to keep water from seeping around the edge of the bath.
I surround this with ideas such as 'Silicon seal' and 'Move the bath'. These seem a bit tame, so I unfold the lotus by surrounding these further. For 'silicon seal', I come up with 'greasy fish', 'squeezed blubber' and 'rubber coat'.
Bringing 'rubber coat' back to the original problem, I coat both the bath and the wall with a silicon layer, such that simply pushing the bath up against the wall forms an automatic seal.
The Lotus Blossom works to stretch thinking away from the rut that can surround the original problem by using ideas as triggers for further thinking, thus asking you to move further way from the problem than you might otherwise go.