This article is a App Innovation Contest Entry: the application intents to stimulate creativity when solving complex or challenging problems, either standalone or collaboratively in a group session. It does this by offering you a wide range of tools, or toys, during the creative and analytical phases of a typical brainstorming session. The creativity tools that are offered are based on several resources, such as the book ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko, books by Edward DeBono, and TRIZ (a Russian acronym for Theory of Innovative Problem Solving).
In addition, it includes functionality to share your ideas with a co-located or distributed group of people, effectively allowing you to collaborate over the Internet.
Although there are several (free) mindmapping applications available, such as Freemind, or (old) tools like The Invention Machine, they only support you in one kind of creative analysis. However, there are many more means available to stimulate creativity, and I always found it too bad that there was no software support for them. Now that has changed.
The application consists of three parts, each supporting a distinctive phase in the creative process:
- Problem analysis and definition of selection criteria.
- Individual brainstorming, supported by creativity toys and ideas from others.
- Collaborative analysis and judging.
Let me elaborate on these parts.
Problem analysis and definition of selection criteria
Before you begin a creative session, you should clearly understand your problem. One of the ways to do this is to use the approach originally described in the Rational Unified Process using four simple questions: What is your problem, who is affected by it (specifies stakeholders), what if you don't do anything (importance), and what is the ideal solution (direction). See the top half of the figure above.
In addition, if you want to select an idea, you should define your criteria upfront. See the bottom half of the figure above.
After analysing the problem, you start creating new ideas. Besides being a creative genius yourself, you can also open the idea toolbox, and pick one of the creativity toys offered by Michalko, DeBono, or TRIZ. In addition, you are able to view ideas generated by others (not shown here).
Collaborative analysis and judging
Finally, you can start a group session with other users over the Internet. Ideas created by others are viewable (and editable) by you, and when you edit/move an item in the collaborative workspace, others will see it too. In this way, you are able to have a creativity session with distributed team members.
Points of Interest
This application uses the following features of an Ultrabook:
- Touch functionality (to create/edit/manage ideas, and all other features are touch enabled too).
- Camera, for use in the collaborative sessions.
- GPS functionality, for use in the collaborative sessions.
Currently, the main parts are working already: The problem analysis part is finished, I can create new ideas, organize them, and share them with others. The only thing that needs to be done is package the creativity toys in a container, and of we go.