Air cliché

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This technique (author Arthur Van Gundy) is the combination of a fun atmosphere, a structured brainstorming procedure, and brainwriting. This idea generation activity helps groups generate ideas while simultaneously encouraging the playful atmosphere needed for unique ideas. Paper airplanes are used to create this atmosphere while enhancing cross-fertilization of ideas.

Procedure Steps

1. Define the problem and  instruct the participants to organize into small groups of four to seven (five is ideal).
2. Pass out the following list of clichés to each participant.  Incourage the group members to add their own clichés to this list.
List of Sample Cliches: Ace in the Hole. Cart Before the Horse. Chase a Rainbow. Divide and Conquer. Drop in the Bucket.  Every Cloud Has a Silver Lining. Filled to the Brim. Fish in Troubled Waters.
3. Ask each person to select one cliché and try to use it as a trigger for an idea.
4. Tell participants to write it down on a piece of paper, using markers and writing in large letters and use it as trigger to brainstorm other ideas during five to ten minutes.
5. Then group members select three or four ideas, write  them on papers and fold their papers into paper airplanes and fly them to one of the other groups. Everyone throws their airplanes at about the same time.
6. Group members next should collect the airplanes flown to them and take turns reading aloud the ideas written on.
7. Each group then tries to improve the ideas read or use them as triggers to brainstorm other ideas. Groups record all modifications and new ideas.
8. Finally, each group should select a sample of their best ideas and report them to the large group. Ask the large group to evaluate the overall process.

Air Cliché Variation

Ask participants brainstorm totally absurd ideas for a problem, write them down on paper airplanes, and fly them to other groups. Groups receiving the ideas then discuss the ideas and decide which ones are most impractical. The winning idea is the most absurd one from all the groups. Ask each group to attempt transforming its worst idea into a more workable one.

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