Assignment #4


Blue sky ideation: anything is possible. As I learned, if you tell a group of people this, they will take that idea to the limit. These were some of the ideas presented for "How might we make it easier for short people to remove ice/snow from their cars?"

  • Hire a chain gang

  • Stand on someone's shoulders

  • Create an elevator in your driveway that lowers the car six inches

  • Change Earth's orbit so snow doesn't exist

Or for the prompt, "How might we keep our hands warm while de-icing/de-snowing our cars?"

  • Light the car on fire

  • Have someone else blow on your hands while you work

  • Use your feet

  • Use your mouth

  • Cortizone shots into your hands

But surprisingly, I was able to get some useful ideas from my group! But before I get to that, let me tell how it all went down.

Meet the ideaters!

Thumbnail image for 530623_4910210198157_1742610921_n.jpg <- Colie

601488_10200932581096926_1566570158_n.jpg <- Ericka

1394216_10200932567936597_1437205567_n.jpg <- Leslie

575416_410972829009777_1230899135_n.jpg <- Jessica

1003806_10202228119365267_1480334302_n.jpg <- Riley

We started out by just talking for a few minutes with some music on because several of the group members had just come from work and I wanted them to relax a bit before we went on. This didn't take too long and soon enough we were all laughing and having a jolly good time. Cheerio!

At this point I decided to break out my new warmup exercise: word association stories. I started out by giving everyone sixteen seconds to do a random word association train off a word that I gave them (for example; blue, water, ocean, rocks, plants, people, hardware). Then everyone passed these lists to the person to their right who was then required to make a story in thirty seconds based off of these words.


Surprisingly, they loved the game and actually wanted to play it more than I was anticipating! We played a few rounds of this and by then I felt the group was more than ready to begin ideating.

The Session!

I conducted the brainstorming session "pincards" style, with each ideater putting their ideas to their left. I also laid out a newspaper crossword for inspiration (I suggested they randomly place their pen and force themselves use whatever word they picked. Got some interesting ideas from that one!)

These pictures are square, which I apologize for, but unfortunately I didn't realize they were sketching in portrait orientation until too late. I hope this works!

Prompt #1!
The first prompt, like I said, was "How might we make it easier for short people to remove ice/snow from their cars?" Overall we generated 58 ideas in twenty minutes, most of which will actually help me as we go on. Here are the five we liked best for this first prompt:


An extended scraper. Simple idea, but it's not really being done right now. Having it foldable would also make it possible to be stored in the car as usual. An idea by Colie.


Retractable step stool. Once again, pretty simple, but by having a step that could swing out, those vertically challenged people could clear the snow from the top of their car much easier. Riley came up with this one.


Vibrating Shaking roof. Created named and renamed by Jessica. By having a roof that could vibrate, snow could be removed before it hardened, or loosen heavy snow, overall reducing effort for everyone.


Snow-be-gone spray. Use a spray container to coat the car in an ice dissolving coating, thus the snow will remove itself (or at the minimum be much easier to remove). The spray aspect will allow users of any height to coat their entire vehicle. This was another idea from Riley.


Blowdryer attached to car outlet. This idea is cool because it exploits a feature already in cars, the car outlet, but in a new way. Plugging an appliance, such as a hairdryer, to melt the snow will make removing snow much easier. Good one Leslie!

Prompt #2!
"How might we keep our hands warm while de-icing/de-snowing our cars?"


Scraper with hot air blower. Here we have a regular ice scraper with a fan that blows hot air onto the user's hands. This was Leslie's idea.


Scraper with a thing to block snow. Once again, this is a regular scraper with a hilt of sorts to block snow from getting the user's hands wet. This was one of my ideas.


Shake and scrape/heated scraper handle. Both of these ideas were by Ericka, and have similar themes. By using a chemical reaction, similar to in hand warmers, the handle warms up.


Ultrasound scraper. A scraper that uses ultrasonic frequencies to keep the hands warm, by Riley.


Mittenscraper. Here is a scraper with a mitten built in. Convenient if you forget your mittens, and helps you hold the scraper better! By Leslie.

For the first exercise our IPM was .62 and for the second was .58. This wasn't our goal of 1 idea per person per minute, but overall I was satisfied with the number of ideas I received as they were quite varied in scope and focus.

This exercise was really helpful, opening up ridiculous (yet helpful!) ideas. If I need any more ideas on de-icing cars, I know who to consult.



I like how you used blue sky ideation to show your participants that any and every idea was worthwhile. Your game also sounded cool, it could have been interesting to only use words that were related to winter in order to get everyone in a wintertime frame of mind...

As someone who is short, I can really appreciate the ideas that were generated during your first brainstorming session (no one got credit for the ideas though!). You explained everything well in words, but I would have liked more pictures that documented your group's process.

I am excited to see how these ideas progress!


Hi Thorson,
Interesting start to your post by highlighting more ridiculous ideas people may come up with for your HMW questions!

I thought your game was interesting too. As you mention you grabbed your friends after work, did you supply them with some calories to boost their ideation?

I do think that there are few ideas which can turn out to be real products such as the Mittenscraper. It would be better if you had the description of these ideas above the pictures as it would be easier to read and refer to the drawing downwards.

-- Shiv

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This page contains a single entry by Josh Thorson published on November 18, 2013 9:18 AM.

Assignment #3 was the previous entry in this blog.

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