The paper clip: a creative exercise

Ingredients

One paper clip, 25 minutes, your imagination.

Assignment

Generate at least 25 great creative ideas to promote the utility and versatility of the paper clip.  (After all, it is an under appreciated occupant of supply closets everywhere.)

Process

Work in teams of five, but for the first five minutes no talking allowed. Each team member writes non-stop any ideas that come into his head. After five minutes teams work together, sharing ideas, building off of each other’s kernels, augmenting the initial body of work, making them better, and finally agreeing on five or 10 really good ones.

Criteria for deciding

  • Do you like it, really like it?
  • Is the idea guaranteed to get attention?
  • Is it something you’d remember?
  • If it’s not pure, raw entertainment does it offer genuine utility?
  • Would you tell a friend about it?

Hints and stimulae

What if the paper clip were huge?

What if Marcel the Shell used it?

What if it were a metaphor?

What if the world were attacked by Origami?

What if Banksy created graffiti with it?

What if it were a Guinness record?

What if it starred in the SI bathing suit issue?

What if it came in a little blue box?

What if it were a political statement?

What if it had an arch rival?

What if Lady Gaga’s incorporated it into her shoe collection?

What if it were an amusement park ride?

I tried this exercise yesterday as a way to inspire students in my Strategic Creative Development class to think more creatively. It worked pretty well. It got people to break out of traditional routines, come up with crazier ideas than usual (we had everything from epic battles between paper clips and staples, a means to world peace, even famous one page documents – think Declaration of Independence — that upon close inspection had a slight indentation in the shape of a paper clip in their upper left hand corners, suggesting that maybe there should have been a second or third page that we’ll never know about.)

Anyway, thought I’d share it,  If your class or company or marketing department needs a little brain lubrication, this exercise works pretty well.

Got any others you can share?  I need more.

 

10 comments
ReZamp
ReZamp

Great stuff! you write too well. Moreover your post contains some worthy information which i guess will help lot of people... 
https://twitter.com/re_zamp

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student travel deals

Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. Thanks for the code…hard to ?nd when needed..very nice indeed and keep up the good work

Sheffield
Sheffield

This is an affecting point of view on this topic. I am happy you shared your ideas and I find myself agreeing.

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Footy Preview

I found your website using Google. This is a very well written article. I'll make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

HunterTerrito
HunterTerrito

Wow, Edward. Just yesterday I gave a presentation to my creative strategy class focused on "The Creative Mind." The high points were Tim Brown's great TED presentation from 2008 on Creativity and Play, The book "The Accidental Creative" by Toddy Henry, and we finished the class with the Marshmallow Challenge, which worked great for class. http://marshmallowchallenge.com/TED_Talk.html. Sounds very similar to your exercise 

tfauls
tfauls

@edwardboches many thanks. Cool xrcise. Reminds me of Bucky Fuller- inspired xrcise with egg. Will also share YouTube idea gen xrcise soon.

ericflinn
ericflinn

@edwardboches thanks for the exercise. I'll always remember the great one we did at @moosylvania.

shilpitewari
shilpitewari

@surekhapillai is that suppose to be a punishment :) @barbarindian

Samit2309
Samit2309

@surekhapillai @barbarindian Create a big circle ie Zero!Symbol of Sibal ie dumbness!