What If Piggies Could Fly?
How silly questions can get us in a creative mindset
“What if…” questions are generally asked by ‘yes-but’ people. “Yes, great idea, but what if our customers don’t like it?”
The same question, however, is also rather useful to creative people. Answering this very question regularly leads to groundbreaking new ideas and fresh insights.
“What if…” make us think. It helps us to escape our day-to-day business and shows us what the future could look like.
“What if…” questions are often the starting point of some very original ideas.
Consider the following. What would the world look like if the following scenarios would be reality?
What if… pigs could fly?
What if… children would be invisible?
What if… corporations would be run by grandmothers?
What if… people would only eat carrots?
What if… everybody would be a spy?
What if… cars would run on compliments?
If you just think about one of these scenarios for a second you probably already see a vivid image of the situation in front of you.
(In the case of flying piggies, you might envision butchers with jetpacks, farmers wearing safety helmets protecting themselves against falling poo, etc.)
One of the reasons why the “what if…” questions are so powerful is because they get us out of our current situation and show us a world where everything is possible. They open doors to our imagination.
Asking “what if…” questions is a great exercise if you want to train your creative muscle. Just take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and think about the possibilities of your “what if…” scenario. Just let the film play inside your mind’s eye and imagine what it would look like.
This fun and harmless little exercise helps you to think about things you normally would not think about. It might even spark an idea or two for your business.
Needless to say, these imaginative questions can also be used as a warming up for one of your brainstorm sessions, to get the participants in the right mood.
Give it a try and come up with a few “what if…” scenarios yourself.
It goes without saying that “what if…” questions can also be applied to your own business. We’re almost always so caught up by what is, that we often forget to think about what can be. The “what if…” technique is a great way to force yourself to do otherwise.
What if… our services were free of charge?
What if… we would stop selling our best selling product?
What if… our service would cost one million dollars?
What if… we started selling our waste?
What if… our market would evaporate next year?
What if… we would buy our biggest competitor?
What if… we would create a new product for a different market?
Develop several “what if…” scenarios for your own organisation and see what it leads you to. It could help you to come up with some new products or services and it might even lead to a pivot in your business model…
When answering your “what if…” question, try to look at this hypothetical situation from all angles. Consider both the upsides and the downsides and pay attention to the questions it raises. Creativity guru Edward de Bono developed a clever thinking tool for this; PMI.