What is this? This technique gives you an easy and fun way to program the right and left sides of your brain to ensure that both sides work effectively together to produce meaningful solutions for your tough problems.

Why is it important? Our subconscious is working continuously, so the idea behind this technique is to direct work by giving the brain specific input. By directing our thoughts, we enhance our awareness and facilitate action quickly.

How do I do it? At the top of the first page of a pocket-sized notebook, write, "In what ways might I...?" (fill in your own situation, a problem, or an issue you need to deal with). Then write down some key issues regarding that situation. Head the second page with an unrelated word or idea--the first one that pops into your mind. Tuck the notebook away and let your unconscious "incubate" the problem. As additional thoughts spontaneously appear throughout the day, enter them on the situation page. At the same time jot down any unrelated thoughts on the second page. Next, pick the two most intriguing entries and combine them to create new, synergistic ideas to head the next day's pages. Keep doing this for a week or so, then review your entries. The solutions will be right there! Anne Talvacchio, one of our staff members, used the Idea Hatchery to develop an effective organizational planning system for herself. She started with the problem of "getting better organized" and played with food and color words. Pop! The idea emerged: a color-coded system.

What are some ways to use this? I've developed some of Albert Einstein's quotes into "Einstein's Thought Book" and handed it out at the beginning of a session along with directions for setting up the Idea Hatchery. I've found that this is a great way to encourage after-hours thinking on the WHAT you are addressing during the meeting. Each time you come together as a group, check to see what ideas have "hatched."