Brainstorming Technique 9: Lotus Blossom
Too often we get bogged down in our problem to such an extent that we cannot see beyond it. When we are looking at ideas or problems while still being trapped in our paradigms, whether they are departmental, technological or just plain logical, we inhibit our potential to think and grow creatively.The enemy of creativity is tunnel vision. Our 9th technique to effectively and creatively think and brainstorm is called the Lotus Blossom.
The Lotus Blossom is a complex yet easy-to-execute technique that enhances our level of thinking by giving multiple layers to our idea or problem. Like the flower of a lotus, it has many different petals and layers and each layer reveals more layers underneath it. This technique was created by Yasou Matsumara, and uses a grid box that visually expands your level of thinking.
The lotus blossom technique uses a lotus blossom diagram to plot ideas/ problems and their themes. The problem gets plotted in the middle. Then you plot out the themes for the problem. Once that is done, each theme becomes the centre of its own lotus blossom with additional themes around it. The lotus blossom grid can be made even bigger and more complex, but generally a simple diagram like below is enough to get the job done.
How do we do it?
Step #1: State your problem/idea
As with all techniques the first thing we do is define our problem/ idea. We start with putting our idea in the middle of the lotus blossom. For example, let us say that we run a career development program and we want to expand it with better services for our clients. So we decide our problem and we plot it in the middle.
Step #2: Plot the themes to your problem or idea
The theme can be anything that effects your problem or idea directly. The best way to recognize what themes are more important and worth putting on the grid is to ask yourself the following questions every time you come up with a theme.
- Does this theme really affect my idea/problem?
- If I were to remove this theme, would it make any difference?
- If my idea/problem were a book, would this theme be important enough to have its own chapter?
Once you have your themes, plot them around your problem or idea. You do not need to fill out all 8 boxes on the grid, but the more you add, the better chance you have of generating new ideas or solutions.
Here we chose:
In the above grid, we chose the following themes for our Career development services. Let’s look at them and see why we chose these over others.
Network, because without having a strong network, we cannot connect our clients to the right employers.
Staff, because without the right team, we cannot help anyone achieve their dream job.
Access, because without a way to connect to employers our services are redundant.
Training, because without skills, the chances of getting good jobs is low.
Visibility, because if clients don’t know about us, they cannot come to us for help.
Success rate, because without knowing our results, we do not know if what we are doing is working.
Step #3: Define themes for each of your themes
Now that we have our themes, each theme becomes the center of its own lotus blossom, and we define the themes of each.
In our above themes, we expand on each to see what we can do, are doing or wish to do to successfully execute the above.
We expand on each theme, and try to get ideas on what we can do to improve each theme.
For example, we could grow our network and connections by creating more events where we bring clients and potential employers together through round-table events, speaker events, or even speed interviewing, similar to speed dating events. We can also do a culture match between employers and potential employees by providing a place where employers can showcase their culture and benefits. Only employees who fit within that culture can follow these and when there is a vacancy, employees with similar values will have first chance to reply.
Similarly, for our own visibility, we can take to social media, since most of our clients might be from the youth spectrum. By knowing where young people get their information and spend most of their time, we can target them to use our services.
Under the Training theme, we added things like CV writing courses. If we teach our clients how to create good CV’s their chances of getting interviews is higher. We can also be a hub to do just courses of work preparedness which can be started even in high schools or universities.
As you can see, by using the lotus blossom technique we can branch out our main areas of focus further and create even better ideas. The best thing to do would be to choose themes that are already your strengths. By working on ideas that you are already good at, you can make a bigger impact, without even touching the themes that are not your core strength.
So, if you are ever stuck and know that you should be doing something more, try the lotus blossom technique to open and peel away the layers of potential.