Reuse of ideas and concepts for creative stimuli in engineering design

Thomas J. Howard, Steve J. Culley, Elies A. Dekoninck

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    Creative idea generation is essential to novel concept development and ultimately innovation. The following paper describes an extensive industry-based study investigating the use of creative stimuli during a brainstorming session at the conceptual stages of design.A new approach to retrieving creative stimuli referred to as ‘Sweeper’ is proposed, which sources stimuli internal to a company’s information repository. This creative stimuli tool is then compared to other creative stimuli tools using objective, industrially grounded performance criteria. This study provides an arguably much needed real, industrially-based experiment regarding brainstorming. The results and observations suggest that having a guided approach to sourcing creative stimuli is very beneficial. The use of the TRIZ contradiction matrix and inventive principles is also shown to be a good example of a guided approach in terms of increasing creative performance. However, the Sweeper tool using internally sourced stimuli provides a method that is useful and more a practical alternative, as it is based firmly in the domain of activity.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Engineering Design
    Issue number8
    Pages (from-to)565-581
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


    • TRIZ
    • creativity and innovation
    • innovation methods
    • human creativity
    • knowledge and information management
    • design reuse


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