Random Stimuli


‘Random stimuli’ is one of 30 techniques included in our PLAYBOOK, the free toolkit for creative thinkers.


One of the simplest and often most effective approaches to ideation is Random Stimuli. It is great when you’ve exhausted all the initial obvious possibilities or when you have hit a wall.


Random prompts help stimulate, re-energise and even redirect the mind. They work by triggering associations or other unexpected connections. Some will be additional ideas while other may trigger whole categories of notions which in turn create a flow of new ideas.

Technique using random word and pictures

You could just select a random item and hope that it stimulates an idea. However, to be really effective, Random Stimuli should be a more structured 3-step process:

Step 1

Select a word or picture at random from a book or magazine.

Step 2

As a group, briefly describe the random item. For example: say what it is, how it works, what some of its key characteristics are.

Step 3

Ask how each of these characteristics could be applied or transformed to help with the problem.

You can download the ‘random stimuli’ canvas and other useful techniques below.

Random stimuli canvas
Random stimuli canvas

This structured approach to using random inputs should provide a fresh set of possibilities for you to discuss and evaluate.

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Explore 5 ways to get your creative juices flowing and overcome creative blocks, including Random Stimuli.



The ‘random stimuli’ worksheet is included in our free PLAYBOOK, a collection of 30 of our favourite tools and techniques. Download them all now in the PLAYBOOK.


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