"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Monday, July 13, 2009



To brainstorm, either individually, or within a group, for solutions to problems, or simply to generate insights and ideas for conversion into products, services, or processes.

This is a springboard not only to creativity but also to innovation, with the technique often setting off a chain-reaction of diverse themes.

Start right in the centre of the 9 x 9 matrix (marked ‘start’ in the central box). Write down, as a key word, your issue under consideration (do this as a full sentence on the very top of the matrix sheet so that you articulate your complete intention). This is the main theme of the exercise.

Next, radiate outwards, and in each of the surrounding eight squares, coloured and marked A to H, write down an associated idea, or attribute, pertaining to the main theme. The main core of 8 squares that surround the starting square are colour coded to facilitate processing.

Having done this, transfer these eight associations to their respective squares (correspondingly colour coded) located outside the original eight boxes that surround the core. These outside boxes are also shaded for easy recognition.

Now repeat the original methodology, and surround each of these eight associations with eight of their own. These boxes are numbered 1 to 8, around each of the letters from A to H.

Once the matrix has been completed, see if you have enough material to arrive at a solution. If not, you can re-do the exercise, on a blank matrix, but this time, starting with any one of the original eight associations now in the centre.


Follow the rules of brainstorming; suspend judgment as you spin off associations in your quest for solutions.

In our specific example, ‘Breakthrough,’ one matrix was adequate for initiating an action plan, with insights available for subsequent fine tuning.


Yasuo Matsumura, president of Clover Management Research, originally developed this technique. The name comes from the way in which lotus petals radiate outwards from the centre, as of course, is the case with so much else in nature. Reflections of the central, starting, pattern subsequently act as the core of other similar patterns.

The range of possible associations is infinite wherein lies the beauty of all creativity.

I have modified the original matrix so that it is colour coded appropriately, and nine clearly demarcated boxes (one main and eight peripheral), with nine squares per box, make up the structure of the complete matrix. This is to facilitate processing and preclude any possibility of confusion, especially when working at speed.

Additional Notes:

The objective of the exercise is not just to make random associations. With the ‘issue under consideration’ clearly stated at the head of the page, we must at all times maintain the link between it and the associations being made within the one major and eight peripheral boxes.

The aim remains constant: strive for insights that are the seeds for solutions.

It is important to note that both the statement for ‘issue under consideration’ and the key word(s) in the centre serve the following purposes:

(a) the former represents complete articulation of the main theme

(b) the latter represents the distillation of this complete articulation

Both are necessary as they are twin pillars of powerful thought processing.

Any repetition of words at diverse locations of the matrix is perfectly normal and merely represents emphasis upon specific thoughts. These can have relevance in multiple areas of focus.

[To be continued in the Next Post. Excerpted from 'Surfing the Intellect: Building Intellectual Capital for a Knowledge Economy', by Dilip Mukerjea. All the images in this post are the intellectual property of Dilip Mukerjea.]

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