Cherry Split: Unpacking Challenges Through Attribute Listing

Cherry Split: Unpacking Challenges Through Attribute Listing

Welcome to day 8 of our 30 Days of Creativity series! Today we are looking at the Cherry Split technique, an attribute listing method developed by Michael Michalko, as described in his book “Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Exercises”.

Why Cherry Split?

Cherry Split is a powerful tool for tackling complex challenges by breaking them down into manageable attributes or ideas. It promotes creative thinking, detailed analysis, and innovative problem-solving.

Brainstorming Technique: Cherry Splitting

From “Thinkertoys: A Handbook of Creative-Thinking Exercises”, here's how Cherry Splitting works:

Steps in Cherry Splitting:

  1. Describe the Challenge in Two Words: Choose two words (or two simple concepts) that best capture the essence of the problem you're trying to solve.
  2. Write Down Your Starting Words: Pick one of the two words and think of two related words. Do the same for the other starting word. Don't try to relate it to the original problem, just concentrate on the single word.
  3. Expand the Branches: Take each of the four words from the starting word and think of two words that go with it. Continue to break the words down into two more related words until you think you have enough.
  4. Look for Ideas: Look at all the words you have come up with. Do any of them spark an idea for a solution to your problem or challenge?
  5. Create Combinations: Mix and match the words in your word tree. Do any combinations inspire possible solutions or ideas?
  6. Write Down Ideas: Embrace every thought or idea and write down all your new ideas, no matter how unconventional they may seem. Every idea is a stepping stone to creative solutions.
  7. Review and Pursue: Review all your ideas to find the ones you're most interested in pursuing.

Example: Creating a Romance Story

  • Starting Challenge: Romance Story
  • First Split: “Enemies to Lovers”, “Fake Dating”
  • Second Split: “Enemies to Lovers” into “Betrayal”, “Reconciliation”; “Fake Dating” into “Secret”, “Real Feelings”
  • Continue Splitting and Developing Ideas: As you continue to expand, don't limit yourself to just tropes. Think about characters, settings, conflicts, and unique twists. For example, under “Betrayal,” you might explore specific scenarios, character motivations, or plot twists that could add depth and complexity to the romance story.
  • Final Ideas: Combine different elements to create a detailed outline for your romance story. You may end up with rich characters, intriguing plotlines, and fresh takes on classic themes.

The Cherry Split method guides us in deconstructing complex challenges, allowing us to analyse them creatively by separating and reconnecting related ideas. This process helps us to uncover unique solutions that might not otherwise be apparent.

Applicable to many facets of life, this technique fosters creative thinking and inventive problem-solving. With consistent practice, you'll develop the ability to approach and solve challenges in new and imaginative ways.