Type of record:
  • Micro method
  • Creativity technique
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Ideal innovation phases for this method:
  1. Innovation Phase
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
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The provocation or provocation technique is a method of brainstorming introduced by Edward de Bono. It works by questioning existing assumptions and points of view with the help of so-called provocations. It exists in many variations and belongs to the most important categories of creativity techniques.

In brainstorming, provocations are used that throw thinking off the beaten track by questioning existing assumptions and experiences or providing unexpected stimuli. In this way, they help to overcome the blindness of the company and to make new perspectives possible. Provocations can be mere random concepts or deliberately constructed falsifications of facts or expert knowledge. Even shocking provocations can be effective. In order to emphasize that the effect of provocations takes place only in thinking, and to avoid confusion with the usual meaning of the word, they are also called mental provocations.

(Mental) Provocations are never meant as statements that can be true or false. Rather, they should serve as suggestions - as stepping stones to new ideas. If they were to be treated as normal statements, there would be a risk that they would trigger unwanted discussions or meet with rejection. To avoid this, de Bono recommends announcing provocations by prefixing them with the word PO. The word PO has no meaning of its own, but merely provides the following sentence as a suggestion. Accordingly, the following two statements are very different:

All professors love their students.
PO All professors love their students.

The first sentence is an assertion that could be true or false, while the second sentence is merely a suggestion. The easiest way to describe PO is as "What if...? interpret, so:

What if all professors loved their students?
  • Effective for all innovation types
  • Effective for incremental innovations and improvements
  • Effective for low complex challenges
  • Effective for medium complex challenges
  • Effective for radical innovations
  • P5 Idea Finding (ideation - idea generation - creative phase - incubation)
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