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Analysis & Design

Creative techniques in the requirements elicitation process

date: 9 July 2021
reading time: 5 min

Creativity… this is such a hot buzzword these days! But what does it actually mean?

We can define creativity in many ways, such as:

  • the ability to generate ideas,
  • the understanding that there is always room for improvement,
  • a general attitude towards the acceptance of the change.

However, creativity is also about finding inspiration to create a solution, and this is what we do for our clients. But in order to awaken and inspire creative thinking for great IT solutions during our workshops, we need to know exactly what we need it for and which tools and techniques we should leverage.

Why do we need creative techniques?

Logical thinking is very important but this alone isn’t enough to help us find a solution. In order to come up with the best idea, we need to think outside the box. And using creative techniques can help us uncover surprising and brilliant solutions, because it removes the limitations that are set by rigid frameworks. 

Creative techniques help us to bring together the world of chaotic and unlimited thought with analytical ordering. In the first step, the creative techniques let us free our natural creativity, but later help us to order, think through and choose the best options.

Therefore, creative tools not only help us during the process of finding the best solutions, but we can also use them to collect project requirements, as well as with classification and prioritising.

The crucial thing here is to always use the best techniques and tools for the specific job that we have in mind.

How to foster creativity? 5 significant techniques

There are hundreds of ways to foster creativity, and it would be impossible to present a truly comprehensive list of every technique out there, but we will show you at least a few of the most interesting ones, to give you a good starting point for solving your current and future problems.

1. Brainwriting (3-6-5)

Brainstorming is probably the most well-known group of workshop techniques. It allows a group of people to spontaneously generate even the quirkiest ideas, without fear of being criticised. It comes in many forms and is constantly evolving. Brainwriting, for example, is often perceived as a more effective idea generation method, because it gives the chance to get the ideas from introverts. Instead of discussing, it gives everyone a chance to put their ideas on paper before passing it to the next person, who can review and add to it. It goes on like this until each paper has come full circle.

When to use it?

  • During the earliest stages of the project, when nothing has been defined yet
  • When information about a problem is spread across many people
  • When you need to be able to present and choose from many options

2. Mind Mapping

This technique allows you to collect knowledge and organise your thoughts while providing them with some structure, so that you don’t forget about anything and can take everything into consideration as you come up with new ideas.

When to use it?

  • When you’re analysing complex problems and need to gather your thoughts before doing creative thinking
  • While you’re collecting ideas

3. Fishbone diagram

This is also called an Ishikawa diagram, and it looks like a fish skeleton. It helps break down a problem to discover the reasons why something did or did not happen, to determine cause and effect.

When to use it?

  • When you need to identify the underlying root causes (harmful factors) of a problem
  • While prioritising those causes

4. Six Thinking Hats

This method was created by Dr. Edward de Bono. It allows you to separate your thoughts into six categories – so-called “thinking hats”, so that you can mentally put them on or take them off, and also switch hats as needed.

This technique was created to maximise productivity, to help users see a problem holistically from all sides, to enable parallel thinking, and also to make it easier for you to redirect your thoughts and spot both opportunities and risks.

When to use it?

  • When making strategic decisions
  • To improve performance
  • When you need to look at problems from unusual angles

5. The Reversal Technique

The Reversal Technique was created to help you broaden your perspective and solve your problems in ways that you wouldn’t have even thought about otherwise. It forces you to ask slightly different questions, turn positive statements into negative ones, or shift your focus in other directions. For example, instead of asking yourself how to increase your revenue, think about how to decrease it, and then focus on ways to eliminate all the negative factors that could cause your sales to go down.

When to use it?

  • Whenever you got stuck on a problem that doesn’t seem to have a clear solution
  • When you want to come up with an innovative, unusual and surprising solution

This is just a brief overview of a few popular creative thinking techniques – you may choose one of them and use straight away, but if none of them sounds appropriate, there’s a way to find the perfect one for the job…

Finding the perfect technique

Liberating Structures is one of the greatest tools that we could recommend to help you find the perfect creative technique for your project. In the mobile version of Liberating Structures, you can find your ideal creative technique by first specifying the amount of time that you want to spend using this technique, and then you indicate the goals that you want to achieve. For example, you may want to reveal an idea, diagnose a problem or map out a solution.

Still, an experienced facilitator is necessary to guide through certain more complex techniques, such as for example business canvas, lean canvas, impact mapping. To perform these techniques a greater knowledge of the tool is required.

At Future Processing, our specialists use a wide range of creative techniques in our Discovery and IT Strategy Workshops to help maximise creativity. If you are struggling with finding the method that suits you best – you can always contact us, and we will organise a workshop that is tailored to your specific needs.

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