I was positively surprised to discover that a simple game I was used to playing with my sister during our childhood is actually a powerful tool to develop and lead creativity.

The name of the game is “shiritori”. A Japanese game that, following the Shimpei Takahashi’s thought, can effectively guide a brainstorming session, unleashing new ideas.

Shimpei Takahashi is a Japanese toy developer and he has always been dreaming of designing toys. However, at the beginning of his career, he found that the pressure to produce guaranteed results and the management’s focus on data analysis squashed hardly his creativity. At the end, after several attempts, he got his ideas flowing again thanks to that simple word game called shiritori.

Shiritori is a way of generating random words in order to form creative connections. A game that allows people to develop unique ideas simply by saying words that start with the last letter of the previous one.

He provided us with a concrete example in his funny TED talks. He said: “Shiritori is a game where you take turns saying words that start with the last letter of the previous word. Many random words will come out. You force those words to connect to what you want to think of and form ideas. The key is to keep them flowing. The more ideas you produce, the more you’re sure to come up with some good ones, too. Let’s say “cat, cola, concert, brush”. Many random words will come out. You force those words to connect to what you want to think of and form ideas. In my case, for example, since I want to think of toys, what could a toy cat be? A cat that lands after doing a somersault from a high place? How about a toy with cola? A toy gun where you shoot cola and get someone soaking wet? Ridiculous ideas are okay. The key is to keep them flowing. A brush, for example. Can we make a toothbrush into a toy? We could combine a toothbrush with a guitar and you’ve got a toy you can play with while brushing your teeth. Kids who don’t like to brush their teeth might begin to like it!”

Simple and effective.

Takashi assumes that “if people base their ideas on data analysis only, they’ll end up trying too hard and they can’t produce new ideas at all. If they think of ideas as freely as if they were throwing darts with their eyes closed, they surely will hit somewhere near the centre. At least one will. That’s the one they should choose. If they do so, that idea will be in demand and, moreover, it will be brand new.”

I believe this method could be really a powerful tool to collect ideas for any new projects, products, services, books, apps, events… and in any sector and function too. The benefit of coming up with words on your own is that each word relies on the line of thinking you naturally have. With the game you’re actually building upon the train of thought you’re already on.

As Takahashi said: “to set limits on brainstorming, even though it might seem a counterproductive approach, helps people get their ideas flowing.”

Let’s try then and unleash your creativity!

 

Watch the TED video HERE

 

Enza Artino,
International Service Manager c/o Wyser; Coaching Competence Center Manager c/o Gi Group