Last Updated on 14 November 2019

For the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, China wanted to ensure rain storms took place where and when they want them to… That did NOT include the opening ceremony. So, the Weather Modification Department in China seeded approaching clouds with activators to induce rain storms outside the National Stadium. Over the past 12 years of testing they’ve increased rain storms by 24%. Not bad.

How cool would it be if you could do with brain storms, what China did with rain storms? What if you could employ activators when problems are approaching and seed brain storms to produce 24% more solutions?

The Problem Modification Department at Idea Sandbox has prepared this short list of activators for you to employ.

(1) PROBLEM DEFINED – A caveat as we start… Our focus is HOW to fix a problem, not figuring out what is broken. I’m going to assume your problem has been properly defined, and now you need potential solutions.

(2) CONDUCIVITY – You need to fish where the fish are – sometimes that means moving your boat. You will increase your chances of coming up with great ideas if you surround yourself with the right resources and remove interference. The formula Tim Gallway outlines in his book, “The Inner Game of Work,” works well for me:


Increase idea performance with these interference-removing practices…

  • People – Make sure you’ve assembled a combination of both subject matter experts and those new to the challenge. Also, you don’t need cynics at this stage, you need ideaists… those willing to throw out any potential solution. (There will be plenty of time for filtering ideas that won’t work at a later time).
  • Energy & Stimulation – Be well rested. A well-rested body makes a more productive brain. Take breather breaks every few hours. Skips the M&Ms and Skittles for energy/brain foods such as: fresh bananas, almonds, and pumpkin seeds. Keep your hands busy; it helps you to think better. Equip your space with Play-Doh, TinkerToys, Legos…
  • Place – Be somewhere free of distractions, email, phone, and interruptions. The further you can get away from the “real world” the more creative your ideas will be.

(3) RESOURCES – Finally, if you want more than a misting of ideas… Instead, I’m talking about a river-flooding, downpour of ideas… You need to follow a structured process. Simply sitting in a conducive room with conducive people won’t get you there. Adding structure and timing will ensure you work the problem and stay on task.

Here are a list of immediate (NEED IDEAS NOW!) and short-term (GOT TIME) resources that will provide you with the tools you need to dissipate problems.


If you don’t have enough time to check out your local book store or get an overnight delivery from Amazon, use these immediate on-line resources.


If you have the luxury of a day or two, order some of these great tools. (Most of these provide process without a lot of reading).


IDEO Method Cards by IDEO
William Stout Books

Creative Whack Pack (Cards) by Roger von Oech
Amazon US | Amazon UK

KnowBrainer by SolutionPeople
SolutionPeople Site | Purchase

Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck by Michael Michalko
Amazon US | Amazon UK

Free The Genie by Idea Champions
Idea Champion Site | Purchase

In addition to these great titles, check out the list of books categorized in the brainstorming genre on the Idea Sandbox Wiki.

“101 Creative Problem Solving Techniques” by James Higgins
Amazon US | Amazon UK

“A Whack On The Side Of The Head” by Roger von Oech
Amazon US | Amazon UK

How to Have Kick-Ass Ideas by Chris Barez-Brown
Amazon US | Amazon UK

“Creativity Today” by Ramon Vullings and Igor Byttebier
800CEORead | Amazon UK

Best to you using these activators to get you the biggest, nastiest, squall of a brain storm!