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Guidance notes: How to use the Lotus Blossom tool

Purpose – use this tool to:

  • Generate lots of ideas
  • and a range of different ideas.
  • Capture those ideas that are already in people’s minds, before using other tools.

Description

Lotus Blossom is more structured than many idea generation tools. In relatively short time, it can help generate 72 ideas and often leads to a variety of ideas. It is less likely to generate highly unusual ideas.

Process

  • The facilitator reminds the group of the task: the challenge or problem for which they need ideas. Make the problem statement visible, and place it in the centre of the Lotus Blossom template shown below. Give the group time to ask clarifying questions to the client, if needed.
  • Remind the group of the generating guidelines: defer judgement, go for quantity, make connections and seek novelty.
  • Without describing all the steps of the tool, broadly explain what this tool is used for. Answer any questions.
  • Give group members a couple of minutes of private time to generate initial ideas and write these on post-its.
  • Ask different group members to give an initial 8 ideas, and place these in spaces A-H in the template. (Make sure that these ideas are different to each other).
  • Then place these 8 ideas in their respective places around the template: ‘A’ will move to the top left corner, into space ‘A’ and so on.
  • Encourage the group to generate 8 more ideas, prompted by each of these initial 8. This could give you 72 ideas in total. The further ideas may be obviously connected to the initial idea, or may be very different. Anything goes.
  • Continue until the template is complete, or time runs out.

Resources needed: Lotus Blossom template, lots of brightly coloured post-its.

Facilitator tips:

  • Ensure that the initial 8 ideas (A-H) cover a range of themes. That will help give you variety.
  • Encourage people to place ideas anywhere on the chart where they can – follow their interests and energy.

Source: Yasuo Matsumura, Director of the Clover Management Research, Japan