Creativity 1… 2… 3… What If?

This is Part 2 in a 3 part series on how to become more creative.   If you missed Part 1, you can read it first by following this link – Creativity 1 2 3.. #1 Just an Idea

So many of us take what we see at face value or only use an item for its intended purpose.  I am always reminded of this shortfall in our basic way of thinking when I think about Apollo 13.  Did you see the movie or remember the actual event?   It is when the Odyssey spacecraft breaks down on the way to the moon and NASA has to come up with a way to get the astronauts back safely.


Their starting point is a bunch of miscellaneous items whose only common theme is they are all items already on the spacecraft.  The items include duct tape, socks, batteries, and other tidbits – not much.  Once they identify a fix on the ground, they can tell the astronauts how to do it – in space.  It turned out to be one of NASA’s finest hours as Apollo 13 never got to the moon, but they did get home safely. 

All because a bunch of NASA technicians put their heads together and came up with a creative fix –with odds and ends – nothing technical, but as they were scrambling to come up with something quick – they asked:

“What if” and had success.


Creativity: Step 2 – Ask What If?

Try to look at everything from a new perspective – with fresh eyes.  It is when you learn to look at a problem, idea, or object with new, questioning eyes that you can really begin to explore your creativity.

Seeing is an emotional, intuitive process as well as a way of breaking down images into their elements – color, texture, form, composition, structure, and rhythm and then analyzing them.  Learning to be creative is a process, much like scientific discoveries that arise from your observations and experiences to yield an idea that can make a real difference in the way you live.  You can develop this ability by experimenting until you conceive a great idea whether it’s a new way to hang your bath towels, adding different ingredients to your favorite recipe, or to end world hunger – it is the same process.

A great idea will come to you when you keep an open mind and believe that anything is possible.

Try it right now.  Grab a nearby object, it can be anything, the more ordinary the better.

Now Ask Yourself:

1 What can I do to this to make it better, unique, more attractive?

2 What if I enlarged or reduced a part of the object, changed the color or texture of the surface?

3 What if I rearranged or eliminated some of the parts?

4 What if I add on or combine existing parts in new or unusual ways?

5 What if I reverse or exchange some of the parts?

6 What if I substitute one part for something else or substitute something else for one of the parts?

7 What if I put my own signature twist on the object?

Now, go get your 3 x 5 cards or have a phone app ready to write down the things that pop into your mind.

The next time you are trying to figure something out or create something new or you just want to do something creative – Ask yourself,  “What if?”… and see what you can come up with.

Read Part 3:

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  1. Awesome post. It is so important to be able to think outside the box, not only in design but also in everyday life.

    1. Hi Denise-

      Thanks so much. Like you stated- everyday life as well as life in general is so much more interesting when you think creatively. Thanks for connecting with me.

  2. I love the way you think….you are so right!! You just have to see things in a new way sometimes.
    I laughed about the Apollo 13. We just watched that the other night (my kids saw it for the first time.) I KNOW I wouldn’t have been creative enough to get them home :)

  3. Great brainstorming exercise. Thanks!