The Lotus Blossom is a powerful technique for brainstorming and organizing your ideas. The principle is very elegant. You start with an idea and expand it into various topics by placing them surrounding the original idea. This organization will give you a balanced view of your ideas and their relationships. Each of the sub-topics can be expanded further by considering it as a new topic, and the process continues.
The best way to use the Lotus Blossom is by placing all your ideas inside a three-by-three matrix, with the core idea resides in the middle box. You can then expand the idea into various themes and placing them in the surrounding boxes. For each core idea, six to eight sub-topics would be optimal. Each sub-topic can be expanded to another eight ideas. If you complete this exercise, you will have at least 64 ways to improve your original idea.
Suppose, for example, you need to find ways to reduce costs for your company. You would write “reduce costs” in the center box. Furthermore, write down any special requirements you need to consider when making your decision. Next, find eight most significant areas in your organization where you can decrease costs. For example, you have selected the following areas: “energy,” “travel expenses,” “personnel,” “technology,” “consumable,” “suppliers,” “facilities,” and “operational costs.”
For each area, try to come up with eight ways to reduce costs. For example, in the “energy” box, you list down the idea of replacing old and energy inefficient electronic appliances. By expanding this idea outward, you identified several devices that can be replaced. Similarly, in the “technology” box, you write down using a multipurpose device. In this case, you can combine a fax machine, printer, scanner, and copier into one all-in-one printer.
Ideas from different themes can be combined into a single execution plan. For example, you have identified a number of devices in the “energy” box that can be replaced with one multipurpose device in the “technology” box. Another example is combining the idea of reducing paper consumption in the “consumable” theme with implementing an electronic filing system under the “technology” theme. By organizing your ideas in this manner, you have a global view of all your solutions and can easily combine several of them to form an effective execution plan.
The Lotus Blossom is a simple yet powerful brainstorming technique. It allows you to focus on an idea at a time, yet it also provides the flexibility to expand your thoughts. An important aspect of this technique is that it provides a global view of your problem, and the relationships and connections between its components. This allows you to combine several solutions together into one action plan. Give it a try, I hope you will find this technique useful.