MadLibs & The Secret of Multiplying Ideas

When it comes to idea creation Cartesian products are an effective technique for creating exhaustive lists of all possible ideas by combining options from several distinct lists.  It saves time and prevents you missing valuable ideas. Creating lists lets you  frame a problem by multiplying out source lists/options and seeing what you get. Some combinations make no sense, so can quickly be eliminated.

You can use Excel to create a cartesian product.

MadLibs offers a similar approach.  MadLibs let you fill in the blanks. Offering pre-defined choices helps you keep MadLibs focussed on your core options.

Shyam and I used this this week to help us work on some content ideas.

Multiplying distinct lists to create an extensive list of choices is a great way to frame a problem to see if you understand all your possible options.  I highly recommend trying it. Here’s our example:


Here’s three examples by combing items from each list. I expanded/reordered the options for the sake of readability:

  • Collect a list of Tech Alternatives from your audience.
  • Curate Sport Quotes from Sochi
  • Create Lists of People in the Video Game industry.

Why not try is for your niche. What are your options? What lists can you create to help your businenss get found. What are the options on each list? How can you combine this lists Madlibs style?

I used the MadLibs in this deck,  providing multiple choice options to get people thinking about local content creation.

During my research I  discovered an interesting fact about MabLibs style data entry forms. Apparently they drive up completion by 20-40%. There’s something affirming about MadLibs. Humans love to complete things. We can’t stand to see gaps or omissions. We love puzzles and fill out series. This explains some of the reasons why people contribute to your lists.

Have your ever used this approach to creating ideas?




NIck Kellet (130 Posts)

Nick’s ventures range from a visual segmentation tool sold to SAP, to an award winning board game. Today, Nick is co-founder of Listly, raising the profile of lists to be on par with Slideshare & YouTube.