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Technique N°10 - Parameters variations

Mixing keywords can help you find the Eureka!

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A problem statement is usually comprised of parameters – components of a problem. Playing with them will help you unlock the ideas generation.

The Cheetos contest is a good playground to test this technique with the following challenge: “Create a new Cheetos product (cheese-based, multi-texture) with a concept that talks to both parents & kids with the sole objective of bringing them together in these fun family moments!”

The idea behind this technique is that by linking variations of the main parameters of your problem statement, by combining and recombining them, you will generate a lot more of ideas.

Parameters are the key elements, characteristics, factors, variables, or aspects of a problem. Once identified, you can play with different variations by combining problems, words, ideas, extreme, perspectives and domains.

Let's see how it works:

  1. Start by writing down your problem statement.
  2. Identify the main parameters (or characteristics) of your problem statement by answering the simple question: “Would my problem still exist without this category?”
In the example, 
- Cheetos product = the product
- Parents and kids = the people
- Fun family moment = the benefit 
  1. Below each parameter, list all the variations that you can imagine (you might decide to have 10 variations as a minimum).
For “Product”, we can come up with: milk, water, honey, toy, cat, smell, rap music, keyboard, pen, and scarf.
For “People”: mother, friend, boss, shrink, doctor, colleagues, boyfriend, and dancer.
For “Benefit”: happiness, joy, energy, pleasure, desire, strength, intelligence.
  1. Make random connections between the variations to create new insights.
  2. For each random combination, force yourself to generate at least one idea:
“Milk + boyfriend + strength” might lead to the idea of the milk given during breakfast to a little boy to help him grow up. Could the new Cheetos product be milk based for the breakfast of children?
“Pen + doctor + pleasure” gives the idea of the pleasure of knowing that the doctor made a prescription that will cure you. Could the new Cheetos product be a mix between a drug and an aliment?
“Dancer + scarf + joy” gives the idea of a colored dancer costume that flight when she is dancing. Could the new Cheetos product be as light as a scarf on a dancer neck? Or could be designed as super thin slices of cheese?

Keep going with the other combinations, don’t hesitate to add more variations and don’t be afraid to make weird connections! 
  1. Return to your initial problem statement (re-read it) and see if you have new ideas!


If you have issues at identifying parameters you can:

  1. Write down the keywords related to your problem statement
  2. Cluster them in themes
  3. Use the main themes as parameters
Example of parameters: communication, strength, quality, people, shape, package, size, materials, trends, products, benefits, markets, process, prices, information, obstacles, process, distribution, design, etc. 

Creating variations open your creative landscape and making random connections between them will force your brain to create new connections and thus ideas!


Did you find new ideas to solve the problem? If yes, congrats! If not move on to the next technique!

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