Activity: Explore Analogous Inspiration

When you’ve spent countless hours, months, or years deep inside a particular field or system, a radically fresh perspective can help unlock sticky problems or inspire new directions of exploration.

Use this activity solo or with your team to draw insight from analogous contexts and provoke new areas of thinking.


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Step 1:
Choose a piece of the service, experience, or problem you want to focus on.

Example: We want to increase access to our school lunch programs

Step 2:
Identify one emotion you want to evoke in your audience of focus.

Example: We want kids to feel proud rather than ashamed of using our programs

Step 3:
Brainstorm other services, experiences, or solutions that evoke that emotion.

Example: Seeing their work displayed on a classroom wall, being selected for a team, receiving a compliment on project

Choose one to move forward with.

Example: Being selected for a team

Step 4:
Explore how that analogous service, experience, or solution evokes that emotion. Get specific.

Example: Uniforms and matching gear help them display their identity as part of the team, they get to spend time with a new group of friends who share their passion, they have a coach who values them and wants them to be included

Step 5:
Fill in this madlib statement: How might we make (our service, experience, or problem) more like (analogous service, experience, or solution)?

Example: How might we make signing up for our school lunch programs more like being selected for a team?

Step 6:
Use this madlib as the framing for a second brainstorm to generate new ideas for your context.

Example: What if there was a role model or coach figure for kids to go to with questions, who made them feel part of something cool?

The longer we’ve been working in a particular context or system, the harder it can be to break out of familiar patterns and ways of solving problems. Looking for inspiration far outside our usual field of view can help spark new insights while keeping us grounded in the deeper emotional needs of the people we want to serve.


“How might we make (our service, experience, or problem) more like (analogous service, experience, or solution)?”


For more tools to inspire new creative thinking and gather insights about the people you serve and the problem you are working on, check out our Insights for Innovation course.

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