Shimpei Takahashi
1,980,942 views • 5:40

Hello. I'm a toy developer. With a dream of creating new toys that have never been seen before, I began working at a toy company nine years ago. When I first started working there, I proposed many new ideas to my boss every day. However, my boss always asked if I had the data to prove it would sell, and asked me to think of product development after analyzing market data. Data, data, data.

So I analyzed the market data before thinking of a product. However, I was unable to think of anything new at that moment. (Laughter) My ideas were unoriginal. I wasn't getting any new ideas and I grew tired of thinking. It was so hard that I became this skinny. (Laughter) It's true. (Applause)

You've all probably had similar experiences and felt this way too. Your boss was being difficult. The data was difficult. You become sick of thinking. Now, I throw out the data. It's my dream to create new toys. And now, instead of data, I'm using a game called Shiritori to come up with new ideas.

I would like to introduce this method today. What is Shiritori? Take apple, elephant and trumpet, for example. It's a game where you take turns saying words that start with the last letter of the previous word. It's the same in Japanese and English. You can play Shiritori as you like: "neko, kora, raibu, burashi," etc, etc. [Cat, cola, concert, brush] Many random words will come out. You force those words to connect to what you want to think of and form ideas. In my case, for example, since I want to think of toys, what could a toy cat be? A cat that lands after doing a somersault from a high place? How about a toy with cola? A toy gun where you shoot cola and get someone soaking wet? (Laughter)

Ridiculous ideas are okay. The key is to keep them flowing. The more ideas you produce, you're sure to come up with some good ones, too. A brush, for example. Can we make a toothbrush into a toy? We could combine a toothbrush with a guitar and — (Music noises) — you've got a toy you can play with while brushing your teeth. (Laughter) (Applause) Kids who don't like to brush their teeth might begin to like it.

Can we make a hat into a toy? How about something like a roulette game, where you try the hat on one by one, and then, when someone puts it on, a scary alien breaks through the top screaming, "Ahh!" I wonder if there would be a demand for this at parties?

Ideas that didn't come out while you stare at the data will start to come out. Actually, this bubble wrap, which is used to pack fragile objects, combined with a toy, made Mugen Pop Pop, a toy where you can pop the bubbles as much as you like. It was a big hit when it reached stores. Data had nothing to do with its success. Although it's only popping bubbles, it's a great way to kill time, so please pass this around amongst yourselves today and play with it. (Applause)

Anyway, you continue to come up with useless ideas. Think up many trivial ideas, everyone. If you base your ideas on data analysis and know what you're aiming for, you'll end up trying too hard, and you can't produce new ideas. Even if you know what your aim is, think of ideas as freely as if you were throwing darts with your eyes closed. If you do this, you surely will hit somewhere near the center. At least one will. That's the one you should choose. If you do so, that idea will be in demand and, moreover, it will be brand new. That is how I think of new ideas.

It doesn't have to be Shiritori; there are many different methods. You just have to choose words at random. You can flip through a dictionary and choose words at random. For example, you could look up two random letters and gather the results or go to the store and connect product names with what you want to think of. The point is to gather random words, not information from the category you're thinking for. If you do this, the ingredients for the association of ideas are collected and form connections that will produce many ideas. The greatest advantage to this method is the continuous flow of images. Because you're thinking of one word after another, the image of the previous word is still with you. That image will automatically be related with future words. Unconsciously, a concert will be connected to a brush and a roulette game will be connected to a hat. You wouldn't even realize it. You can come up with ideas that you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

This method is, of course, not just for toys. You can collect ideas for books, apps, events, and many other projects. I hope you all try this method. There are futures that are born from data. However, using this silly game called Shiritori, I look forward to the exciting future you will create, a future you couldn't even imagine.

Thank you very much.

(Applause)