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Ideating with Crazy 8s

Use the Crazy 8s ideation method to encourage your creativity and problem-solving skills.

Now we’ve set the scene for a great ideation experience for ourselves and our team members, let’s turn to how we can actually carry out ideation. We’ll focus on one well-known and highly productive method: Crazy 8s.

Crazy 8s is an ideation method that encourages creativity and problem-solving skills. It’s a simple and fun way to get team members to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas. Here’s how to use Crazy 8s in a team setting.

  1. Gather your team in a comfortable and quiet space where you can focus and be creative.
  2. Explain the rules of Crazy 8s: each team member will have eight minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible on a given topic. The goal is to generate as many creative and unconventional ideas as possible, no matter how absurd they may seem.
  3. Now distribute your Crazy 8s paper. Get a sheet of A3 and fold it in half three times, then unfold it so you end up with eight boxes.
  4. Choose a problem that is relevant to your team’s goals or challenges. It could be anything from brainstorming new marketing strategies to coming up with ideas for a company retreat. Frame your problem as an HMW problem statement.
  5. Give each team member a folded sheet of A3 and a pen or pencil. Set a timer for eight minutes and let the team members start individually creating a response to the HMW. Some team members will prefer to write, others to sketch. That’s fine! Importantly, they should focus their efforts on the first box on their page.
  6. After a minute, prompt the team to move on to their next box, with a new idea. The idea might build on the last, or it might be completely new. Encourage them to be as creative as possible, no matter how crazy or unrealistic the idea may seem.
  7. As each minute goes by, prompt the team members to move on to the next box.
  8. After the eight minutes are up, have each team member share their eight ideas with the group. Encourage open and honest feedback, but remind the team to be respectful and supportive of each other’s ideas.
  9. After sharing all the ideas, take some time to discuss and evaluate them as a team. Identify the ideas that are most feasible and have the potential to add value to the team or organisation. We’ll look at how to do that in the next step.

A piece of paper split into eight boxes, each with a visualised different idea.

A sample Crazy 8s paper, with each box representing a potential response to a problem (in this case, a user interface design).

Crazy 8s is a great way to get team members to think creatively and come up with new and innovative ideas. It’s a fun and easy activity that can be done in a short amount of time and can have a big impact on a team’s creativity and problem-solving skills.

Try it yourself

You can use Crazy 8s on your own, as well as in team settings, so have a go yourself! You’ll need eight minutes for this exercise.
If you already have a problem statement in mind – perhaps one you created last week – then use that as your starting point. If not, then use the following problem statement:
  • How might we improve the FutureLearn platform for professional learners to increase engagement among learners?
Then, follow Steps 5–9 in the list above, adapting them as appropriate (take out the team element).
Once you’re done, pause and reflect. How many of those ideas would you have created if you’d simply written down some potential answers in a paragraph of text? What value did the creative nature of Crazy 8s bring?
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