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R & D Creativity & Innovation Handbook by Edward Glassman Ph.D.
Edward Glassman : Future Fantasy Techniques & Creativity

Future Fantasy Techniques
& Creativity

By Edward Glassman, PhD

Creativity techniques that involve 'future fantasy' produce unexpected, high quality solutions to complex problems. This approach combines expectations of the future with current reality. Use this approach only with an experienced creative thinking group. Here's one such approach.

WHAT IF: Future Pretend Year: A very advanced creative thinking procedure that requires practice and lots of time. If you work on this by yourself, plan to spend time on it each day for many days, even a week. Still, expect startling results.

Write your problem statement. How to (accomplish something vital) ...

Fantasize the future when someone solved your problem.

List each of the following items in turn on separate pages or flip chart sheets without thinking about the possible solution.

1. List those people inside and outside your community (organization) who gained by the success.

2. List those people who lost now that someone solved the problem.

3. List the 'Fantasy Resource People' you brought in to help implement the solution. Include...

  • Experts from the past and present.
  • Experts from other places.
  • Experts from Sea World, Kennedy Space Center, or Epcot Center.
  • Other experts or heroes, historical or mythological, from whom you want help.
  • Fantasy helpers: writers, scientists, artists, inventors, thinkers, business students, professors, consultants, etc.

4. For each person listed in '3' above, list specifically what each uniquely does in the future to help create and implement the successful solution. Start each item with the name of the person.

5. Use each activity listed in '4' above as a trigger-idea to spark new ideas to solve your problem as it exists today. Force combinations between these trigger-ideas and your problem statement.

6. Improve each idea by listing what you like about it, and what concerns you. Then improve the idea by minimizing those things that concern you.

Future pretend year produces a cascade of trigger-ideas, thus:

People => Unique activities => New & Useful ideas.

Keep writing new ideas throughout this activity until you think you solved the problem. Beware: avoid the 'quick fix,' the first really good idea. Better ideas await the patient ones who continue looking.

Allow four to ten (many, many) hours for this very advanced creative thinking procedure. Don't rush it because it seems non-logical. Logic will play a role, never fear. This procedure: so powerful, an explosion of uniqueness.

Future fantasy produces a type of forced withdrawal from the real problem into a fantasy world involving Fantasy Resource People in the future and the present. This helps you escape current restraints on your thinking and jump starts paradigm shifts that allow you to draw on new areas of thought.

You may modify this process to fit your needs. Even a little bit is better than none at all. •

© 2011 by Edward Glassman. All rights reserved.

Edward Glassman, PhDEdward Glassman, PhD was the President of the Creativity College®, a division of Leadership Consulting Services, Inc., and Professor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he headed the Program For Team Effectiveness And Creativity. More »

4/15/11