Creative Thinking Technique: Thought Associations Using Random Desk Objects and Some Science

Thought association and inspiration from random objects can be used for creative thinking. Creative thinking is often needed to generate ideas for new and improved business processes, services, products, marketing strategies and general problem-solving. This creative thinking technique using random desk objects can be used individually, but may work better as a team exercise for diversity of thought and a greater number of concepts and ideas.

Science Background

A research report from the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests “spontaneous thinking is instead a mode of mental activity in which the association between the flow of thoughts, emotions, images, sounds and so on is less regulated, in a continuous stream of internal processing. This mode of thinking appears necessary for the production of new ideas by exploring new associations and combinations of possibilities”.

For this writing, I will demonstrate this technique while directing it towards new and improved business processes.

My Random Desk Objects

I am simply going to use objects from my desk as creative inspiration. My smart device, a paper clip and an arrowhead. The arrowhead is unique. I suggest at least one object be unique and seemingly unrelated to business processes to enhance creative thinking. Routine, in-the-box thinking and actions, is partly caused by using the same neurological pathways in our brains over and over again. Something unique, like an arrowhead, can force us to use other parts of our brain, thus out-of-the-box creativity.   By the way, I found the arrowhead when I was a child at one of our lakes in Oklahoma.

Think About Each Individual Object

Now, I am going to spend about a minute thinking about each object and writing down the thoughts that flow into my mind. These are not ideas yet, simply thoughts.

Smart device – technology, communication, notification, access to information, social media, Apple, Google, productive apps and apps that can waste my time.

Paper clip – old technology, holds papers together, designed a long time ago but still used today, simple yet creative design, very common desk object.

Arrowhead – really old technology, craftsmanship, Native Americans, hunting, survival, bow, and arrow.

Random Desk Objects


Creating General Concepts

I now blend some of these thoughts together to generate some general concepts. These will be “What if we could…” or “How could we…”. Please note, I don’t have to use the thoughts verbatim. I’m just using the thoughts as creative brain food to see what concepts I can generate.

What if we could hold our team together by using a combination of old and new technology?

What if our more experienced team members could mentor our less experienced team members?

What if we could improve the documentation of our business processes?

What would a digital, app-based survival kit look like for our team members?

You get the idea. Again, the technique could be greatly enhanced as a team activity because even more creative concepts and ideas could be generated.

Generating Detail Ideas

Perhaps one of the concepts really clicked, Aha! Say it was the digital survival kit. Perhaps the kit could have:

  • Quick and easy access to business process information.
  • Simple and effortless communication with other team members.
  • Clear and uncomplicated communication to customers about the status of their orders or projects.

From this point, I would start bringing even more detail to the idea.

Give it a try. Use a few random objects from your desk for creative thinking in an area your business needs creative ideas and solutions.

I encourage you to not only think outside the box, but also do outside the box.

Thought associations with random objects is just one technique used in the exclusive System of Pi™ (Profitable ideas) to generate creative concepts and ideas. Prioritization, vetting, development and implementation of ideas are necessary for the full benefits of the ideas to be realized.

Please contact me for help in your creative endeavors.