Word associations have been a part of my creative process for some time now as they are a great tool for quickly and organically jumping from one idea to the next. The collaborative aspect of this exercise, however, is new to me and one that I enjoyed very much. I discovered that in all three lists, I was naturally being limited to my own biases and notions, and that by having others participate in the exercise with me the lists would evolve into more branches than I could achieve on my own. It was also intriguing to literally ‘see’ the though process take place right before your eyes. I could easily understand the connections my colleagues made and how they got to them.
On the flip-side, as I added words to my colleagues’ lists, I could easily see where their biases prevented them from moving into different directions. Being an ‘outsider’ allowed me to ‘orbit the hairball’ far more easily on their lists than my own. The big take-away for me is that no matter how hard you try to figure a creative problem on your own, adding an outsider’s point-of-view is a quick way to gain further insight into the problem at hand.