Sunday, May 20, 2007

Idea Techniques (Intuitive)

In the book, THINKERTOYS, Michael Michalko, presents sets of techniques for generating ideas. In my previous posts, I covered Group A linear techniques, Group B linear techniques, and Group C linear techniques for ideas. In this post, I’ll cover the Intuitive techniques. The Intuitive techniques help you tap your unconscious to find ideas that you already have.


  • Chilling Out (Relaxation) - Relaxation techniques designed to clear your mind.
  • Blue Roses (Blue Roses) - Ways to use intuitive, and how to develop it.
  • The Three B's (Incubation) - Describes incubation and demonstrates how to use it.
  • Rattlesnakes and Roses (Analogies) - How to use personal, direct, symbolic, and fantasy analogies to originate ideas.
  • Stone Soup (Fantasy questions) - Coaches you to direct your imagination with fantasy questions and how to use your fantasies to generate ideas.
  • True and False (Fantasy questions) - How to think in terms of contradictions and paradoxes.
  • Dreamscape (Dreams) - How to capture the ideas in your dreams.
  • Da Vinci's Technique (Drawing) - How to use freehand scribbling, doodling and drawing to inspire ideas.
  • Dali's Technique (Hypnogogic imagery) - How to originate surrealistic imagery, and how to find the associative link between the images and your challenges.
  • Not Kansas (Imagery) - How to direct your imagination with guided imagery scenarios to find ideas in unlikely places.
  • The Shadow (Psycho synthesis) - How to create your own spiritual adviser to help you solve your challenges.
  • The Book of the Dead (Hieroglyphics) How to find ideas in the hieroglyphics from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

The following are blueprints for the techniques.

Chilling Out

  1. A quiet environment. A quiet room or a pleasant, quiet place outdoors.
  2. A specific mental technique.
  3. A passive attitude. Empty your mind. Do not dwell on thoughts as they pass through your consciousness.
  4. A comfortable position. Select a position that will allow you to remain still for at least fifteen minutes without falling asleep.

Blue Roses
Two basic principles of intuition are: It must be developed, and it should be incorporated with reason.

  1. It must be developed. To condition your intuitive mind, try asking some "yes" and "no" questions to which you already know the answers. Do the same with choices. Start by thinking about a choice you have already made, and imagine the options you had when you made the choice. As you think of the choice you have already made, observe the word, phrase, image, or symbol that represents the choice. Try making a few simple choices you haven't made before.
  2. Combine intuition with reason.

The Three B's

  1. Identify. Identify a challenge worth working on and think of the consequences of solving it. If you can envision a world in which your challenge is solved, you will be pulled subconsciously toward a constructive, creative answer.
  2. Prepare. Collect and gather all available information and literature about your challenge. Read, talk to others, ask questions, and do as much research as you can. Consciously work on the challenge as intensely as you can, until you are satisfied that you have prepared as thoroughly as possible.
  3. Instruct. Instruct your brain to find the solution to the problem. Close by saying: "Okay, find the solution to this problem. I'll be back in two days for the answer" or "Let me know the minute you work it out."
  4. Incubate. Let go of the problem. Don't work on it. Forget it for a while. This period may be long or short. Take a walk or a shower, go to a movie, or sleep on it. Incubation has to occur and it will.
  5. Eureka! It may take five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks, five months, or whatever, but insight will occur.

Rattlesnakes and Roses

  1. State your challenge.
  2. Choose a key word or phrase in the challenge.
  3. Choose a parallel or distant field.
  4. List the images that you associate with your chosen field, then choose one or more particularly rich ones.
  5. Look for similarities and connections between the two components of your analogy. Think easy. Let your thoughts come and go as they wish.

Stone Soup
The easiest way to begin is by saying: "I need fresh and novel ideas to solve my challenge."

  1. Stipulate your challenge.
  2. List as many "what if" scenarios as you can.
  3. Try to answer the questions posed by your scenarios.

True and False

  1. Problem.
  2. Paradox. Convert the problem into a paradox. The question to ask is: "What is the opposite or contradiction of the problem? Then, imagine both existing at the same time."


  1. Formulate a question about your challenge. Write the question several times, and then, before you drift off to sleep, repeat it to yourself several more times.
  2. If you don't remember your dreams, wake up thirty minutes earlier. This increases your chance of waking during a dreaming period, rather than after one.
  3. Record the dream in a dream journal. Keep the journal next to your bed, and record as many details as you remember.
  4. After the dream is recorded, ask yourself the following questions: how many people, places and events in the dream related to my question?, who were the key players in the dream? How does this relate to my question? does the dream change the nature of my question? what elements in this dream can help solve my problem? what associations does the dream conjure up that might help with my problem? what is the answer from the dream?
  5. Take one or two dream images or ideas and free-associate from them.
  6. Keep the diary current.

Da Vinci's Technique

  1. Review a challenge you are working on.
  2. Relax.
  3. Allow your intuition to offer images, scenes, and symbols that represent your situation. You do not need to know what the drawing will look like before you draw it.
  4. Provide a format for the challenge by drawing a boundary. This can be any size and shape you wish, and can be carefully or roughly drawn. The purpose is to separate the challenge from its surroundings and allow you to focus on it.
  5. Draw as your mind wants to draw.
  6. If one drawing does not seem enough, take another piece of paper and do another one, and another - as many as you need.
  7. Examine your drawing.
  8. Write down the first word that comes to mind for each image, symbol, scribble, line, or structure.
  9. Combine all the words and write a paragraph. Free-associate, writing whatever thoughts come to your mind. Compare the paragraph with your drawing.
  10. Consider how what you wrote relates to your challenge. Has your viewpoint changed? Do you have new ideas? New insights? Surprises from your subconscious? What parts puzzle you? What's out of place?

Dali's Technique

  1. Think about your challenge.
  2. Totally relax your body. Try to achieve the deepest muscle relaxation you can.
  3. Quiet your mind. Clear your mind of chatter.
  4. Quiet your eyes. Achieve a total absence of any kind of voluntary attention.
  5. Record your experiences immediately after they occur. The images will be mixed and unexpected and will recede rapidly. They could be patterns, clouds of colors, or objects.
  6. Look for the associative link. write down the first things that occur to you after your experience. Ask question such as: what puzzles me? is there any relationship to the challenge? any new insights? what's out of place? what disturbs me? what do the images remind me of? what are the similarities? what analogies can I make? what associations can I make? what do the images resemble?

Not Kansas

  1. Relax.
  2. Ask your unconscious for an answer to your challenge.
  3. Take a guided imagery journey.
  4. Accept whatever messages emerge.
  5. Use your imagination to make the images as clear and vivid as you can.
  6. If confusing images occur, conjure up others.
  7. Look for qualities, patterns, relationships, and clues.

The Shadow
To invoke your personal mentor, perform the following:

  1. Let go of your tension.
  2. Imagine your body is surrounded with soft, glowing white light. Let the light comfort you and bathe you in its soft radiance.
  3. Now imagine that you are walking into a favorite place (house, boat, mountain, forest, room, whatever). Picture the details. What does it look like? Smell like? Feel like? What sounds do you hear?
  4. Picture your spiritual mentor walking toward you. Say to your mentor: "Be my guide. Introduce me to solutions and to new ideas. Lead me to the resolution to my problem." Give your full attention to what the mentor says or does, just as much as you would if you met your mentor in the outer world. This will keep the experience from remaining a passive fantasy.
  5. Bring the conversation to a close. Have your guide say to you, "Listen, I'm here for you. Call me up whenever you need me. Know that I'll help you whenever you need me." Feel yourself trusting that. Open your eyes and return to the outside world. People have different experiences in meeting their guides. Don't be surprised if your guide seems eccentric or has a sense of humor or a flair for the dramatic.

The Book of the Dead

  1. Write out the challenge you want to solve.
  2. Choose one of the three sets of hieroglyphics.
  3. Scan the illustration of hieroglyphics and then write out the challenge again.
  4. Empty your mind of all distractions and concentrate on the challenge.
  5. Open your eyes and "translate" each line of hieroglyphics.
  6. As you interpret each hieroglyphic, free-associate from it. Ask questions such as: what is this?, why did they use this? what could this mean? what does the frequency of this figure mean? what figure comes closets to my challenge? who could this be? what does this remind me of? Among these questions, one may stand out as the key to resolving your challenge.
  7. Write out your interpretations. Search for clues, new ideas, insights, and new lines of speculation. Combine the interpretations for the various lines into one all inclusive interpretation. See if you can combine the various line interpretations into a narrative that may contain the solution to the challenge.

Key Take Aways

  • It seems to me that the keys to using intuition are being open to it and being in a relaxed state. Stress seems counter-productive to intuitive modes.
  • My favorite techniques are Stone Soup and The Shadow. I like thinking through “what if” scenarios, and I like the metaphor of personal guides.
  • I see parallels across techniques that use personal mentors. While the means may vary (spirit, mentor, power animal), the end remains the same – tap into your higher part of your unconscious.

Additional Resources

My Related Posts


Anonymous said...

Great post! Thanks! And I'll share with you one more- learn how to interpret dreams!

J.D. Meier said...

Very nice