Search & Reapply creative thinking technique – better skills for free


The Search and Reapply technique is a method for creative problem-solving that involves drawing inspiration from solutions in different fields or areas of expertise and applying them to your own challenges or ‘probortunities’ (a term combining ‘problem’ and ‘opportunity’).

Steps for the Technique:

  1. Identify the Probortunity:
    • Clearly define the problem or opportunity you are facing.
  2. Search for Analogous Solutions:
    • Look for solutions to similar challenges in different areas of expertise or industries.
    • Ask questions like:
      • Who else has solved a similar problem?
      • What similar areas might have addressed this issue?
      • Are there any other industries facing the same challenge?
      • Is there anyone else in the company who knows how to solve this?
      • What else could we use to solve the problem?
      • Where else might this problem have been solved?
      • What other companies might know how to solve this?
      • What similar problems have been solved, and how?
      • What other industries face the same problem and what do they do about it?
  3. Gather Insights and Ideas:
    • Collect various solutions and ideas, regardless of their immediate relevance.
    • Broaden your search to include unconventional sources that might offer unique perspectives.
  4. Reapply the Solutions:
    • Analyze how these solutions were effective in their original context.
    • Brainstorm how these strategies or ideas can be adapted to address your specific problem.
  5. Develop and Test:
    • Develop prototypes or models based on the re-applied ideas.
    • Test these solutions and refine them based on feedback and results.

Example of Search and Reapply:

  • Probortunity: Fitting grand pianos into small dining room doors.
  • Search and Reapply Ideas:
    • DIY Furniture: Modular design that can be assembled inside the room.
    • Kit Cars: Disassembling into smaller, manageable parts for transport and reassembly.
    • Magic Tricks: Techniques to create illusions of smaller space or size manipulation.
    • Children’s Toys: Design principles that allow for easy assembly and disassembly, like puzzle pieces.
    • Doctor Who’s Tardis: Inspiration from fiction to explore innovative design solutions.

Continuous Search and Anticipation:

  • Proactive Approach:
    • Continuously look for new ideas and innovations in various fields outside of your own field.
    • Read books, articles, magazines and websites not linked to your own field and continuously think of “how” (not just “if”) it could be reapplied to your own business or situation.
    • Regularly ask how these new developments could be applied or adapted to your field of expertise.
  • Benefits:
    • Stay ahead of the competition by being proactive in solution-finding.
    • Develop a bank of innovative ideas that can be tapped into when needed.


The Search and Reapply technique is a powerful tool for innovation and problem-solving. It encourages continuously looking beyond conventional boundaries and rethinking how solutions from one area can be adapted to another. By maintaining a curious and open-minded approach, you can discover surprising and effective solutions to a wide range of challenges.

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