Lotus Blossoms for Brainstorming

I’ve used a lot of brainstorming techniques, but here’s a new one I’m anxious to try. It is called the Locus Blossom Creative Technique and was developed by Yasuo Matsumura. The technique uses a grid design to help problem solvers examine multiple aspects of a problem or challenge in detail. It is most commonly used in business, but seems useful in many brainstorming situations. Take a look at some of the options here.

The process starts by listing a potential problem situation in the center of a nine-square grid—in this example, in the box labeled “I.” In a business it could be a general goal of increasing sales, but it also could be beginning story planning, an exploration of possibilities for a historical or literary character, planning for a holiday party or decorations, or even my brainstorming classic: what to do with mountains of leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. Each of the surrounding boxes is filled with a related idea or aspect of the problem. For story planning, boxes might include setting, key characters, problems encountered, etc. A social studies class studying the Viet Nam War might include important topics to study, for example, Communism, the Pentagon papers, protests, war in Cambodia, and so forth. My turkey example could begin with categories like sandwiches, soup, casseroles, etc. The ideas don’t need to be parallel. My turkey brainstorm might also include things like “Ask a friend” or “Freezing techniques.”

Each item in the original 9-square box become the middle of a new 9-square. For story planning, ideas would then branch out from “setting” or “mood;” for my turkey example, “soup” or “ask a friend” would each become the center of their own box. The lotus blossom technique gives the possibility of more than sixty ways to think about a problem or question. Even if each box isn’t filled, the structure gives us a push to think a bit more, and perhaps explore more fully categories we hadn’t considered. Imagine this technique used to generate ideas for a new product, an election campaign, or a socially-distanced celebration. I’m anxious to give it a try. How about you? If you do, especially for a new creative lesson, I’d love to hear about it.

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