Baking ingredients

The attribute listing recipe for creativity


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


Attribute listing is a very effective way of breaking down issues into their constituent parts and stimulating creative ideas to change them. Think of it like taking a recipe for a cake, then experiment by changing one or several of the ingredients. You might end up with a delicious new flavour cake, or something quite different like a biscuit or a sweet bread.

Change one thing, change the whole.


This technique explores the individual elements, components or ingredients that make up a whole, then looks at different ways each can be changed to create a new and different whole.


The ‘attribute listing’ grid provides a useful format to help generate creative ideas for your projects. You can download the attribute listing grid below.


Start by selecting a product or thing, and take some time understanding it. Find out what parts it is made from, what they look or feel like, and what functions they perform.

Attribute listing grid
Attribute listing grid

1. List attributes

Simply list all the attributes of the item you want to think about. Try to get at least 7 to 10 if you can.


Attributes can be any key physical properties, functional characteristics or other relevant aspects. Shape, size, weight, colour, material, texture, and function are common attributes.

2. Explore alternatives

Now, for each attribute:


EITHER explore alternatives ways of achieving the same effect or quality;


OR explore what could happen if you changed the attributes’ property.


Could you change the material, colour, or texture for example? Would that create a better product or potentially a new use?



The 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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