Thinker's Keys

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What are the Twenty Thinker's Keys? Meaning.

Tony Ryan's Thinker's Keys (1990) emphasize and support the development of innovative and creative thinking on any issue, phenomenon or problem through asking and answering a number of questions about the issue (XYZ). The keys can be used as a mechanism to counteract or discourage such phenomena as: Bounded Rationality, Cognitive Bias and Groupthink.

  1. The REVERSE Key - Name 10 things you cannot XYZ.

  2. The WHAT IF Key - What if XYZ stopped shining? Compare: Feedback Loops

  3. The DISADVANTAGES Key - List disadvantages of XYZ, and then brainstorm various ways of correcting or eliminating the disadvantages. Compare: Theory of Constraints

  4. The COMBINATION Key - List attributes of two dissimilar objects, then combine the attributes into a single object. Compare: Dialectical Inquiry, Integrative Thinking

  5. The BAR Key - Make XYZ bigger, add something to it, replace something on it. Compare: TRIZ

  6. The ALPHABET Key - Compile a list of words on XYZ from A to Z.

  7. The VARIATIONS Key - How many ways can you XYZ.

  8. The PICTURE Key - Draw a simple diagram and work out how to link it to XYZ. Compare: Design Thinking.

  9. The PREDICTION Key - Predict what XYZ will be like in 10 years. Compare: Scenario Planning

  10. The DIFFERENT USES Key - Find 10 uses for XYZ. Compare: Synectics

  11. The RIDICULOUS Key - Try to justify the statement XYZ ... Compare: Lateral Thinking

  12. The COMMONALITY Key - Find common points between XYZ and ... Compare: Management Metaphors

  13. The QUESTION Key - Suppose XYZ is the answer, list five questions that give only that answer.

  14. The BRAINSTORMING Key - XYZ is a problem that needs to be solved. Brainstorm a list of practical, creative or innovative solutions

  15. The INVENTIONS Key - Design a machine for XYZ.

  16. The BRICK WALL Key - Make a statement on XYZ which could not generally be questioned or disputed, and then try to "break down the wall" by outlining alternatives of dealing with the situation.

  17. The CONSTRUCTION Key - Construct XYZ and list materials. Compare: Root Cause Analysis

  18. The FORCED RELATIONSHIPS Key - Do XYZ by A ..., Do XYZ by B ... Compare: Mind Mapping

  19. The ALTERNATIVE Key - Work out 3 ways to ... without XYZ. Compare: Six Thinking Hats, Lateral Thinking

  20. The INTERPRETATION Key - Give 3 possible or unusual explanations for XYZ. Compare: Cause and Effect Diagram

The 20 Thinker's Keys place emphasis upon the development of innovative and creative thinking for three reasons:

  1. Creative thinking can be exciting and enjoyable. This active participation can then create a positive attitude towards the learning process.

  2. The stimulation of creativity in learning heightens the emotional link with that learning. Emotional involvement boosts the effectiveness of our memory systems.

  3. Developing our creative potential will strengthen our ability to cope with change. When our thinking is opened and accepting of new ideas, we become more capable of adapting to these changing circumstances.

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🔥 NEW Combining NONSENSE May Lead to a Useful Idea (Thinker Key #4)
It is said that there is sense in nonsense. There is an atom of truth in what even a mad man might be saying. A combination of certain disadvantaged ideas can result in useful facts or ideas. In toda...
Combining DISADVANTAGES may Lead to an Advantage (Thinker Key 3 and 4 )
At times, combination works better. Bring all major disadvantages together and next combine any two disadvantages. This may reveal a (potential) advantage....
Thinker's Keys: The Question Key
I have tried using one of the twenty thinker's keys, the question, for group dynamics and team assessment. It has helped me to know the expectations and reasons for the group members for joining the g...

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Expert Tips

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The SCAMPER Technique to Creatively Solve Problems and Create Innovative Ideas

Creative Thinking, Lateral Thinking, Idea Generation, Innovation Ideas, Product Innovation, Product Development
SCAMPER is a creative or lateral thinking technique that can be applied particularly for the development of new products...
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Creative Thinking Techniques and Creative Problem Solving Methodologies

Creativity, Innovation Management
This presentation elaborates on the concept of creative thinking. It pays particular attention to the multiple methodolo...

Generating Ideas: Concept Generation Methods

Idea Generation, Brainstorming, 6-3-5 Method, Brain-writing, Theory of Incentive Problem Solving, TIPS, TRIZ
This presentation about idea generation provides a clear description of an idea generating process. The presentation in...

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Compare with: Brainstorming  |  Six Thinking Hats  |  TRIZ  |  Mind Mapping  |  Delphi Method  |  Whole Brain Model  |  Scenario Planning  |  Game Theory  |  Root Cause Analysis  |  Dialectical Inquiry  |  Theory of Constraints  |  Force Field Analysis  |  Analogical Strategic Reasoning  |  Cause and Effect Diagram  |  Lateral Thinking  |  Synectics  |  Management Metaphors

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