Breaking assumptions [creativity method]

The method: Breaking assumptions

A great method to generate new, breakthrough ideas is the method of ‘Breaking Assumptions’. We make assumptions almost the whole day about everything … An assumption is a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof. Most of the time it’s based on previous experiences where a certain outcome has happened and we assume that the same result will happen forever. But the world is changing so sometimes we have to watch out to make too many assumptions. We can also use assumptions in a great way to come up with new ideas. The method works as follows:

• Make a list of assumptions (write all the elements down that you expect from a product/service/process)

• Formulate a challenge where you state that that assumption is not true (or make it extreme to the negative side)

• Generate new ideas based on the new criteria

Eg: If you had to develop a new chair, how can you use the ‘assumptions’ method.

1. Assumptions of a chair:
– a chair has 4 legs
– flat surface
– stands on the floor
– surface to sit & back are fixed
– …

2. Break an assumption or make it the assumption even more extreme:

+ Could we develop a chair with more legs? Can we develop a chair with only 1 leg? Or no legs?
+ Can we create a chair that’s not supported by the floor?
+ Can we make a chair where we can adjust the surface?
+ What will happen if we develop a chair that doesn’t have a flat surface?
+ …

3. List new ideas:

+ A chair that can hang on the wall or at the ceiling with a hook
+ A chair with 20 adjustable legs to sit on a very rocky area
+ A chair where we can adjust the height of the sitting surface depending on the age of a child
+ A chair that floats in the air using an electromagnetic field
+ …