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In what ways might I ThinkPak?
on June 29, 2003
ThinkPak is 56 individual cards used to create new and innovative ideas. Not only can the cards be used individually but also with groups, co-workers, teammates, family, children, etc. First let me demystify ThinkPak, ThinkPak is basically the technique of SCAMPER, but with some great additions. If you have not read the books Thinkertoys, or Cracking Creativity, SCAMPER is merely a way to create new ideas.
S = Substitute?
C = Create?
A = Add?
M = Modify
P = Put to other uses?
E = Eliminate?
R = Rearrange or Reverse?
You merely get an idea or a problem and expand on them using the individual SCAMPER cards. In addition, you then can evaluate your ideas with the "evaluation" cards. Sound simple? Yes it is, but all too powerful!
Let me also start by properly labeling how the cards are separated, and put together into 4 different uses. From the ThinkPak booklet,
Card No. 1 is an easy -reference list of the nine principle strategies.
Card No. 2 outlines the basic techniques for using ThinkPak.
Cards No. 3 through 47 are idea stimulators, i.e. SCAMPER
Cards No. 48 through 56 are techniques that help you evaluate your ideas. i.e. "evaluation" cards
What makes the cards very nice is they are sort of "bullet-items" for SCAMPER, so the cards can do the walking. One side of the cards is some creative diagram visually labeling the card sets (just visual, nothing to use). The backside of the cards is where the information is. All of cards are numbered and the cards are filled with questions and examples, useful to understanding and using SCAMPER.
ThinkPak also comes with a small 61-page booklet with instructions on how to use the cards. The booklet is also great, I have read both of Michael's books and the little ThinkPak booklet gave me some new examples on how to use SCAMPER. Also in the booklet Michael gives some great examples on how people used ThinkPak in real life creative situations. There is a lot more in the booklet as well, including an area on how to use ThinkPak in-groups.
Lotus Blossam is also mentioned in the ThinkPak booklet. Another one of my favorite techniques for creating new ideas. Lotus Blossam is merely a special diagram you draw on a piece of paper that you expand your ideas with. You merely start with a central idea and you expand it outward from a central starting point. The diagram is expanded and is shaped somewhat like a flower (although with squares), hence the name Lotus Blossom. For an in-depth explanation of the Lotus Blossom, check out Cracking Creativity. One of my all-time favorite books, and a great addition to ThinkPak.
Two minor, but noteworthy quivers that I do have concerning the ThinkPak card deck.
No. 1 problem is the size of the individual cards. The cards measure at about 3" x 4 3/4" in size. This makes the cards rather bulky and not extremely pocketable. I would like to have seen the cards been a little smaller in size, something akin to regular playing cards. There is a lot of text on the cards and this is the possible reason for the size? The cards are a little large, but they are handleable. However, they are great size for business groups, or group brainstorming. They can be easily scattered on a table and then selected by your group, or thrown into a box and shaken vigorously. I usually separate my card deck into two piles and then select individual cards. The evaluation cards (48-56) I use mainly after creating new ideas, so they are usually always separated from the main deck.
No. 2 problem is the cards are essentially thin paper. I was curious if the cards would be laminated or not, sadly they are not. I enjoy my cards so much I merely fixed this problem by laminating my cards. Your local Kinko's will laminate the cards. Kinko's offers two different types of lamination (light or heavy) for all sorts of cards, layouts, pictures, etc. Rather inexpensive to laminate but well worth the time and effort. Now my cards are practically waterproof, pocketproof, and childproof :-)
These are only minor complaints for ThinkPak! I love my card deck and I find them very helpful. I also have always liked SCAMPER, and find it very idea-friendly. With SCAMPER, evaluation cards, Lotus Blossam and other ways to create ideas, be prepared to have a notepad ready because ideas will come so fast you may not be able to write them down fast enough! Yeehaww!