A great tool to stimulate creativity during a brainstorm session is the criminal circle. It refers to the secret wish that people have to do things that they are not allowed to do. The effort that this thought alone frees up provides enormous creativity.


  1. Make sure that the problem is clearly reformulated.
  2. Give the participants the assignment to think of solutions with a criminal slant, solutions which are not allowed.
  3. Note down these ideas and use them as a source of inspiration for “legal ideas”.
  4. Begin again at step 2 when the flow of ideas stops. Now give them a specific area of crime (such as smuggling, fraud, deception, liquidation etc.).

Think of criminal solutions for the following problem:
“Will we be able to develop two new products in six months?”

Tips and tricks

  • Newspapers are full of criminal cases every day. Use these as a source of inspiration.
  • Try converting criminal ideas into legal ideas.

Source: ‘Innovation by Creativity’ – Hans Terhurne & Max van Leeuwen