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Apple-Drawing Ideation

The purpose of this simple exercise is to demonstrate three key principles useful for creativity and idea generation: quantity is a condition for quality; building on the ideas of others; the ideas we come up with are usually all the same. The format is simple, with small groups standing and drawing apples. At the end of the exercise the whole group reflects and draws out learnings and reflections.

  1. Step 1:

    Split the participants into groups of 4-6. Draw grids of roughly 30 squares on flipchart paper, one for each group (you may want to do this in advance of the session).

  2. Step 2:

    Introduce the exercise to the groups. Explain that it is a simple exercise that will help them define some principles for creativity and idea generation. It will get them in a mindset of divergent thinking. And it will be fun. They will work in silence for 10-15 minutes to draw as many different kinds of apples as they can.

  3. Step 3:

    They should all take pens/markers, ideally with different colours in each group. Give them 10-15 minutes to fill their grid. Starting in the top-left square, the group members take turns drawing apples. No apple can be the same. They should be in complete silence. Relaxing background music may be appropriate.

  4. Step 4:

    Stop the exercise when all of the grids and squares are filled, or the time has run out.

  5. Step 5:

    Give the groups 2-3 minutes to discuss the experience and draw out learnings and insights from the exercise. You could ask reflection questions like: How was it to do this exercise? What can we learn about creativity from this exercise? What are some principles we can draw out from this?

  6. Step 6:

    Bring the groups together, collating their grids in one place and standing in a horseshoe around them.

    Ask the same questions as in Step 5 to the whole group and discuss any answers. Be sure to highlight the commonalities between the groups. As participants share, highlight these key insights: quantity is a condition for quality; building on the ideas of others; the ideas we come up with are usually all the same.

    Facilitator notes

    If you like, write up the key learnings on a giant piece of paper and stick on a wall in a prominent place. This exercise is useful for demonstrating the value of divergent thinking. Use it with something other than apples for more practical application: e.g., draw 30 logos, write 30 taglines, draw 30 new cars.