Welcome to Streetcombing, the other (better?) way to generate fantastic ideas.
What is it?
Streetcombing is a simple yet powerful technique to find ideas everywhere, all the time. Just by taking pictures of everything that draws your attention. And asking yourself “what are the underlying principles I can use to generate new ideas.”
The Five Steps:
1. Hit the streets 2. Pay attention 3. Take pictures 4. Find the underlying principles 5. Generate new ideas.
more on the steps here
Walking Idea Machine
Once you’ve learned the Streetcombing technique you can find ideas anywhere, and turn your everyday life into a permanent brainstorm so you really become a walking idea machine.
We’ve taught the technique to thousands of people in talks and workshops in our home country. Now we’re turning international.
Ideas are the most important currency in the 21st century. We all need ideas all the time. The surprising truth is that Ideas are everywhere around us. But because they are hidden in plain sight, and because we don’t pay attention to the world around us, we don’t notice them. We walk the streets blindfolded as it were.
Streetcombing is a simple yet powerful technique to take off the proverbial blindfold and find ideas everywhere, all the time.
The word Streetcombing is our modification of the more commonly known Beachcombing: looking for things of value on the beach. So in Streetcombing we look for things of value on the streets. In our case: Ideas.
Invented in the Netherlands (where it’s called Straatjutten) Streetcombing is now spreading internationally as a successful alternative tot the traditional brainstorm.
The 5 steps
1. Hit The Streets
Instead of brainstorming in boring rooms, drinking bad coffee, and depleting our energy, we get out and about. We hit the streets! Most cities in the world are the richest hunting ground to find new ideas. As long as you also take the next four steps.
2. Pay Attention
Turn your attention to the world around you. Forget about your phone (for a moment) and stop thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. Bring your attention to the here and now, become as curious as a five year old and really experience the world around you.
3. Take pictures
Take a picture of everything that draws your attention. Without judging it. As soon as you think ‘hey’, you click the shutter of your camera (phone). Don’t try to think about the picture you just took, but bring your attention immediately back to the world around you and see what draws attention now.
4. Find the principle (iDNA)
After we’ve taken all of the pictures (and only then) we start thinking about them. We ask ourselves what it was that drew our attention. And we try to find the principle, or the DNA behind it. And because it’s the DNA behind ideas we’ve coined the term iDNA.
5. Generate new ideas
In step 5 we start generating new ideas with the help of the iDNA we found in step 4. These principles have allready proven themselves in the real world and they are fantastic jumping boards to finding lots of new ideas.
Example 1: Beer Crates
Beer crates on a balcony in Rotterdam. Somebody built a wall with the crates. He gave the crates an extra function.
iDNA: give something an extra function.
Now you can generate new ideas were things get an extra function
Example 2: Hansl & Gretl
This is a transformer house. Normally these are dullest buildings you can imagine. Until you paint them as the fairytale house of Hansl en Gretl. Suddenly people notice them.
iDNA: add fun to dull objects
Now you can generate new ideas where you add fun to dull things.
Example 3: Sugar lumps
I bought these sugar lumps in a special designshop in Antwerp as a present for a friend. They were 139 times more expensive then ordinary sugerlumps.
iDNA: add design and bring in to another context (from supermarket to present)
Now you can generate new ideas by adding design or changing context
When and Where
Start your Streetcombing in shopping streets. The are designed to draw our attention, so they are full of iDNA.
Go window shopping, enter some shops too. But don’t constrict yourself to shops only, Pay attention to everything else in the street, too.
You can go streetcombing as long as you like, but experience tells us, that when you just start out, an hour is a good time frame.
Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with a longer or shorter timeframe.
After learning the technique in shopping streets, you can try to find ideas in areas without shops. A little more difficult at the start, but you’ll find out that ideas are really everywhere.
The 7 advantages of Streetcombing
- Creates an open mindset
- Suited for extroverts an well as introverts (brainstorms are for extraverts),
- More ideas thanks to the powerfull idea-starters (iDNA)
- Better ideas, thanks to the principles that have already proven themselves on the streets,
- A permanent stream of ideas instead of an hour brainstorming.
- Walking the streets is much healthier then being locked up in a sweaty brainstorm room.
- It’s great fun
You don’t need fancy gear. Your cameraphone is more then enough. (But if you want, go crazy and take an expensive camera.)
Further more: you nee a pair of comfortable shoes And make sure you take the weather into account: raincoat of suncream might come in handy.
And that’s really all you need.
Next level: Streetcombing Pro
“Turn your life into a brainstorm and become a lean and mean walking idea machine…!”
The best ideas almost often come from without your own industry. So deliberately go Streetcombing in other industries: pay attention, take pictures, find iDNA and translate them to your own industry.
if you want to take it to the next step, you can turn your life into a permanent brainstorm. Just lead your life the way you always do, pay a little more attention and use your smartphone to capture everything that catches your attention.
Go pro and create an ‘inspiration bank’. Collect your best pictures with their iDNA and put them in a database (or in a digital folder or fysical box).
Read the Book
The Streetcombing book contains everything you need to know to become
Unfortunately the Streetcombing book is currently only available in Dutch. We’d love to have an English edition as well, so any publisher who’s interested, don’t hesitate to fill in the contact form.
If you DO speak Dutch (or are prepared to learn this beautiful language), fill in the contact form below.
Book a Workshop
Book a workshop with Streetcombing founder Richard Stomp. He has given workshops to hundreds of groups varying from 6 up to 200 participants.
Book Richard Stomp as a keynote speaker. To get an impression watch the short talk he gave at the Creativity World Forum.
Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible