Free associate.

Use the Random Word Drill when you want to let go of your problem-solving orthodoxies to generate convention-defying solutions (and also when you want to have some fun!). 

Random Word is part of the Let Go Practice, and a drill we use to help rapidly generate as many potential ideas as possible. Think of it a bit like free association, with a purpose. 

The drill is typically preceded by a Get Out Drill—such as That's Odd, 3X3X3, or The Dig—for inspiration. Then, get out your Post-its and pens and let your imagination run wild!  


  • A shift in mindset from what is right to what is possible

  • A portfolio of unexpected, inconceivable solutions, ready for quick evaluation and further exploration

Blue tape
Brown paper bag or blindfold


Step 1
Introduce the Random Word Drill.

Step 2
Have teams place the two-word descriptions from That’s Odd (or a similar Get Out Drill) into a paper bag. Let each team choose two Post-its.

Step 3
Instruct Wrong Thinkers to use their random word pair as the starting place for generating ideas for how they might solve their challenge or accomplish their moonshot.

Step 4
As the teams generate ideas, have them post them on their Random Word Poster.

Random Word Tip
For an added element of play, place That’s Odd words on the That’s Odd Poster, blindfold one Wrong Thinker per team, and instruct them to select their Random Word pairs. Don’t forget to spin them for an added challenge!

Encourage Wrong Thinkers to begin with ideas that use all their words (for example: Meat Suit Treasure Map). After a while suggest that they can use parts of words, or recombination of letters in words to further inspire their ideas. 

Let Go Tip
Wrong Thinkers who are new to the Let Go Practice often focus on solving the problem, rather than generating as many ideas for solutions as they can. 

Listen for debates and individuals advocating for a particular solution while running Let Go Drills. You may need to interrupt the group and announce that you are not interested in the answer, but instead want as many possibilities as possible. 

Encourage people to turn off their inner critic, suspend disbelief, and focus on quantity of ideas. Often the most outrageous ideas turn into the most compelling solutions.

When to use the Drill

How to introduce the Drill

Tips for facilitating the Drill