22 How to Use the Random Connection Technique

YES! AND… Facilitate. Innovate. Transform – Creative Gorilla # 22

“Random connections” is a useful technique when stuck for ideas.

Creative Facilitator

“I have an idea!”

 “Twas he that ranged the words at random flung pierced the fair pearls and them together strung.”

Bidpai Pilpay

If called on to run a creative session RIGHT NOW could you deliver?

Imagine you are waiting to meet with a colleague or client. Suddenly the door flies open and they appear. “Sam, (or whatever), we’re trying to come up with a name for our new service and thought you could give us some ideas”.

You enter and four expectant faces (and a remote worker on the speaker ‘phone) look up. Do you:

  1. Panic?
  2. Start thinking of ideas for a name?
  3. Search your mind for a handy creative technique and facilitate an idea generation session?

This scenario happened to me last week at a client’s office. I opted for choice “C”.

Oh OK, I admit I went through option “A” for a split second because I normally prepare thoroughly before a creative session.

I facilitated using “Random Connection” (click here and search on our site for details on the technique). This is a great technique to use when you have a blank sheet of paper, blank minds and little time.

We used random words and random objects as a catalyst between the information in the group’s head and the issue in hand and produced about seventy ideas. Some facilitation tips are:

  • Not all ideas are realistic so challenge the group to find a practical idea from these “springboards” (this is essential if you are to avoid cynicism from those who believe creative techniques generate rubbish)
  • When using objects (or pictures), have people choose one and then “give” it to another person to ensure the catalyst is truly random
  • As soon as ideas begin to dry up, switch to a new catalyst to keep the momentum going
  • Explore some of the ideas that people generate (e.g. someone said “stream” so we generated variants on this idea). This adds momentum and eases the pressure for constant new ideas from catalysts


You never know when you might have the opportunity to use techniques. You can’t keep them all in your head, so try having four techniques you can recall easily.


You might like to use CARP (mentioned in Issue 16) as a handy acronym to remember the broad categories of techniques. Four suggestions (click on the technique, go to our site and search for the technique for more details) are:

To Close

The group chose one of the generated ideas as the name for the service. At the end of the session my client said “I’m not sure if it was you or us who came up with that idea but thanks for your help”.

I’m not sure if that was a back handed compliment but it made me wonder. Could you define a great creative session as one where you achieve the objective you want but nobody actually knows who was responsible for generating the critical thought?

And doesn’t it make for great team work when there are no identifiable “stars” performing, but great performance all round?

I’ll leave you to think on those questions.

May you have a spontaneously creative week!

John Brooker I Facilitate, Innovate, Transform.

Yes! And… We facilitate leaders and teams in medium to large organisations internationally to:

  • Make Meetings Outstanding
  • Make Transformation Simpler
  • Turn Opportunities in to Reality

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Contact John or Kate Brooker:

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