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List all possible solutions.

Here are some questions to help you identify your alternatives:

  • What are your solutions?
  • What are your options?
  • What are your alternatives?
  • What are your results?
  • How many different results can you see?
  • What are your different scenarios?
  • What choices do you have?
  • How many ways can you do things differently?
  • How many new solutions can you visualize or imagine?

Take a closer look at any unexpected or unusual ideas.

Make a list of all the possible alternatives you can think of:

It's important not to stop searching for alternatives once you have found an 'adequate' one. According to Edward de Bono, contentment with an 'adequate' solution is one of the biggest blocks there is to finding the best solution. Picking the first hypothesis that is consistent with the evidence is known as satisficing.

Needles in haystack

Here's another way to look at it:  When asked to describe the difference between himself and an average person, Albert Einstein explained that when the average person is faced with the problem of finding a needle in a haystack they would stop when he or she located a needle. But Einstein said he would tear through the entire haystack looking for all possible needles.

Publications icon


Cracking Creativity: The Secrets of Creative Genius, Michael Michalko, Berkeley, CA: Ten Speed Press, 2001.

De Bono's Thinking Course, Edwarrd de Bono, New York: Facts on File, 1994.