Creative Problem Solving - The 20 Idea Method

Generally, solving problems is what we are all paid for. So finding solutions easier is essential to reducing stress and increasing productivity.

You most likely have used, or at least have a pretty good idea of what brainstorming is, but have you heard of mindstorming?


Brainstorming relies on getting a group of people together and focusing on generating ideas about a clearly defined subject, without judging the ideas as they come up but ensuring they are noted down unedited as they are raised. At the end of the session of 30-40 minutes the ideas are sorted and the best one(s) taken as a subject for further discussion and /or another brainstorming session.


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So brainstorming is great if you have a group of four to eight people that can sit down together and work to generate ideas but what if you need to come up with the ideas yourself – this is where ‘mindstorming’ or the ’20 ideas method’ comes to the rescue.

Originally from Earl Nightingale, the technique was extensive promoted by Brian Tracy, one of the world’s best business and personal development coaches.


Once described as ‘solo brainstorming’ it really works and provide innovative ideas!

While you can't control everything that happens to you from outside causes, you can control your own actions and decisions. You control how you use your time and energy. The choices you make about what you do and don't do are the major factors that control your life. They are the causes that bring about the effects.


You can create the life you want by first forming a clear idea of what your future should look like. You then work back from that vision to determine what actions are necessary to bring it about. Taking those new actions will bring about new results. You compare those results to your goal, make any necessary changes, and continue toward your goal.



















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Everyone has fantastic ideas it’s just how to get them out and communicated. It is a simple technique that shortcuts years of hard work – just follows these steps:


1. Take a blank sheet of paper and write your current problem or goal at the top of the paper in the form of a question.

The question should be as specific as possible. You will find that the more specific the question, the better the quality of the answers you will generate. A specific question allows your mind to focus clearly. Now, instead of the general question ‘How can I improve my space utilisation?’ write ‘What can I do to increase occupancy in the west wing over the next six months?’


2. Think of 20 answers to this question.


Force yourself to write down 20 different things you can think of doing, either now or in the future, that will help you reach your goal.

Some of the things you might come up with:


  • Agree to shared charges between departments
  • Increase the chargeback to encourage limiting waste
  • Run an internal awareness campaign
  • Run an internal competition to showcase best practice
  • Educate departments on flexible working techniques

The first 5 answers will be easy, the second 5 will be harder and coming up with the last few answers may seem impossible. But don't stop until you have created at least 20 different answers. If the ideas are flowing, keep writing them down until you can't come up with any more.


3. Go back over the ideas and select at least one to be acted on immediately.

Once you have your 20 ideas, go back over them and choose the one that feels right to you. Trust your instincts with this. Your subconscious mind is a wonderful guide if you relax and trust it.This is absolutely critical to the success of this method. It is the willingness to take action on your ideas that will keep your creativity flowing. Great ideas will not help you unless you act on them!


4. This is an optional step that can help you progress even faster.

Once you've selected the idea you want to use immediately, perform the 20-Idea method on that idea, creating 20 ways to put that idea to work.

Once you get used to mind storming, you'll find yourself thinking of more and more creative ideas. Take the time to write them down! This will keep your mind sharp and alert.

Act on your best ideas and continually refine them. Combine them with effective ideas you see around you. Every idea doesn't have to be original. Learn from others who have solved the problem or reached the goal that you're working on.

Just physically writing the problem/goal down on paper will get another part of your brain creating.



Mass have a library of creative problem solving techniques and would be happy to discuss your problems or goals. Please contact us at 0118 977 8560 or by email at:  


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