Individual Creativity Exercise

Headstand Technique


Brief description of creativity technique

Headstand brainstorming is a variant of the brainstorming technique in which you reverse the meaning of the original key question to collect ideas through brainstorming. This method is a creative alternative to the classical brainstorming technique.


Headstand technique means turning things upside down. With this technique, users reformulate their challenges into the opposite. This helps to generate new perspectives and ideas. The events and activities that are believed to hinder you from achieving the desired results are firstly collected and listed on a piece of paper. After that, solutions for those identified problems will be mapped out.


Exercise for skills at the level of:






Learning objectives of the exercise

In the Headstand technique, students will focus on approaching their problems from an opposite angle, for instance, what does not work, what may go wrong, or which activities will never solve a problem. 


This opposing perspective of solving a single problem leads students to change their perspective and look at problems from a new point of view. New and exciting impulses are created by answering the questions, which can be used for innovative problem solutions.

This technique allows students to exploit their frustration for the better. In order to solve the problems, they will need first to try to solve them.


The technique is divided into two main phases:

Phase 1 - Brainstorming as many opposite scenarios to the original as possible. In this phase, users write down on a sheet of whiteboard all of the activities that need to be completed to achieve the opposite scenario of what they desire. For instance, instead of asking “Why aren't my oranges selling?”, students may ask “How do I make my oranges not sell?”. Through this, users will know plenty of reasons for their unsatisfactory sale of oranges. 

Phase 2 – Brainstorming the solutions that are resulted from phase 1. In this phase, users have already assessed obstacles and problems that inhibit them from succeeding in certain activities. Solutions to the identified causes are then sought using brainstorming.


Skills developed/enhanced by the exercise









Tolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty and complexity

Others, please specify



Critical Thinking

Divergent thinking skills


Negotiating skills


Strategic thinking




In person: 45 minutes


Online: 45 minutes


How many people are needed?

Depending on the situation and purposes of use, the Headstand technique can be completed individually or in teams but is recommended to be used in a group of minimum of 2 participants. 


Materials required

In person: sketch paper, pen/pencil, template, whiteboard 


Online: internet access, devices, template


Instructions for conducting the exercise

Headstand technique does not always come naturally to academic staff and students. However, everyone can benefit from this technique. With this creative technique, you should focus on approaching a problem from a negative angle; not just any angle. 


For example, HE teacher can ask students and reverse the original key question:


How can I motivate my students’ creativity?




How can I demotivate my students’ creativity?


The teacher then asks the students in the brainstorming session to generate ideas that might worsen the situation. To this end, at the end of the brainstorming session, the students help the teacher reverse the generated wrong ideas and put them back on their feet. However, it is important to reformulate the question in itself and not just add negations such as not or none.


Case study from desk research