And-then-what is a small and simple exercise to promote lateral thinking, a fancy word for free association. The exercise uses inspiration cards with four random words on each. The participants take turns two and two and are forced to associate from one random concept to the next. This exercise does not necessarily have an outcome and can be used more as a high energy warm up.
_Stack of inspiration cards (you can make them yourself or buy ready-made tools)
Plan a vacation
Participants are divided into groups of two. A fun way to do that can be to ask people to get together with someone who shares the same favorite meal. Every person gets an inspiration card and is asked not to look at it in advance. The groups are asked to imagine that they are planning a vacation. Then they each take turns and look at the top word on the card (without seeing the others) and then say something about this upcoming vacation they are planning, which incorporates the word on their card and ending with the question: and then what do we do? For example one person flips his card and reads Paris. This is almost too easy so he starts “We are going on a vacation and we are going to Paris, and then what do we do?” Then the other person flips her card and reads ‘Gravity’ and she continues “And then while we are in Paris we climb the Eiffel Tower to explore how things fall because of gravity, and then what do we do?”
Make it more useful
While planning fictive vacations can be pretty funny, the same method can easily be used to create real output. You can ask participants to plan the next company conference or corporate retreat. Of course there will be many outrageous and useless ideas, but in between you might find that some of them can be interesting or inspire something else.