IAF Methods

Provocation Workshop

by for . Last edit was almost 2 years ago
60 - 180 15 - 30
in a workshop when creativity is needed.
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Additional info


To generate ideas in a problem solving workshop. The Provocation workshop is aimed at disconnecting standard thinking patterns and introduces new ones.


You will be able to upload attachments once after you create the method.


  • flipcharts
  • markers
  • etc



Pre-Work Required: Think through a provocative negative statement about the workshop topic (see example)



1. We all think in patterns that are wonderful and useful thing to do except when trying to be creative. These patterns are developed over time from our experiences and the extension of those experiences.

2. What we will do is to attempt to look at our problem in a new way.

3. We will be using what is called a provocative statement. It will seem to be stupid. Bear with me and this should lead to some creative thinking.


1. State the issue that is being dealt with.

2. Make a truly stupid statement about the area you are dealing with

3. Here is an example:
- "The owner of a video-hire shop is looking at new ideas for business to compete with the Internet. She starts with the provocation 'Customers should not pay to borrow videos'.

-She then examines the provocation:

- Consequences: The shop would get no rental revenue and therefore would need alternative sources of cash. It would be cheaper to borrow the video from the shop than to download the film or order it from a catalogue.

- Benefits: Many more people would come to borrow videos. More people would pass through the shop. The shop would spoil the market for other video shops in the area.

- Circumstances: The shop would need other revenue. Perhaps the owner could sell advertising in the shop, or sell popcorn, sweets, bottles of wine or pizzas to people borrowing films. This would make her shop a one-stop 'Night at home' shop. Perhaps it would only lend videos to people who had absorbed a 30-second commercial, or completed a market research questionnaire. ? (Taken from the Mindtools.com web site at http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_08.htm )

4. Use all of some of the following questions:

  • What would be the consequences of doing this? 
  • What would be the benefits of this? 
  • What would it take to make it a sensible solution 
  • What would be principles needed to support it and make it work? 
  • How it would work on a step-by-step basis? 
  • What would happen if the sequence of events were changed?
  • How would it affect the work of employees?

? Etc.

5. Divide into teams equal to the number of questions you want to explore.

6. Have each team prepare a written statement answering the question based on the provocative statement.

7. Have the teams report.

8. Explore the most promising of the ideas.


Debrief the session


Follow-Up Required: An evaluation of the results.


Derived from: This an important lateral thinking method. Laterial Thinking was developed by Edward de Bono.

History of Development: Found on the mindmethods website http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newCT_08.htm

Comments (1) ( 5.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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  • Great for unblocking possible solutions.

    over 2 years ago