From Pressure Cooker to Provocative Ideation

Picture it. Your boss puts you in the hot seat. They ask you to come up with a solution to a problem now...or sooner. Under that type of pressure, it’s easy to feel writer's block. Or it simply feels impossible to come up with something novel.

Boss pings: "Anything yet?"


What your brain needs in this moment isn’t more pressure. 

It needs a provocation. 

Brain food to grow ideas. To think thoughts it’s never thought before.
To become more expansive and creative. 

So in those moments when you feel paralyzed by pressure, it’s NOT the time to put your nose to the grindstone. Instead it’s time to have fun and IDEATE. 


One great way to provoke you brain is with the technique NO RULES ALLOWED

The idea is deliberately challenge all the existing rules and assumptions you have about a particular topic.

For example: I want to create the next new bar experience. My assumptions or rules are that bars have to have people as bartenders, they serve alcohol, loud, open at night, have a bouncer.

Now, lets provoke your brain and challenge your rules with 3 questions:

  • What if we do something WEIRD,
  • What if we EXAGGERATE the rule and
  • what is the OPPOSITE of the rule

So that means….

  • What if we do something weird? - This bar will be inside a library
  • What if we exaggerate the rule and - It will be open 24/7 w
  • What is the opposite of the rule - Instead of a bouncer we will have a librarian at the door

This generates a list of provocative thoughts that helps us build new ideas and we can see things we didn't see before. My possible new idea: New trendy bar inside NYC Public Library, accessible 24/7 only if you can quote a book at the entrance.


Having fun with the process is also key. The more fun, the more your brain is open to be provoked. Our friends at LEGO came up with a great idea to have fun with the process. When they need to be creative they go into a “green room”,  filled with provocations to get their brains inspired. They know that in that room, everything goes, no judgement happens and it's all about having fun with the challenge. When they are ready to move forward they go into the “red room” which signals, it's time to make decisions.


So next time you have to come up with something novel, provoke your brain, have fun with the process, be expansive and nurture ideas. 

At the end...Creativity is intelligence having fun - Albert Einstein.


See you next time!


Hop on to my creative genius list 

Be the first to know the secrets behind creative thinking every few weeks and how to apply them to your life.