Timeline as a creative method

Creativity is like a vast landscape waiting to be explored. Often it just takes a unique perspective or a new approach to discover new ideas. If you are looking for a method to expand your creative horizons and create innovative solutions, look no further than using the Timeline as a creative method.

This technique broadens the perception of areas you can explore for creative inspiration and is especially effective when you want to jump-start the creative process.

What is the ideation method ”timeline”?

The timeline method revolves around identifying areas that can spark creative ideas. This technology broadens the scope of topics you can explore for innovative solutions. It operates within two key focuses: understanding the current state (how something works) and imagining a potential future state (how it could work).

This exercise is most effective when performed on a large whiteboard, allowing for a comprehensive overview of the ideas that emerge.

When should you use the timeline method?

This method is best used at the beginning of a creative process. It serves as an excellent tool for opening up your mind and identifying areas ready for creative exploration. The method can be divided and carried out in different groups, which promotes parallel thinking and different perspectives on how to structure and improve the subject.

How does it work?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to using the timeline method effectively:

  1. Create a timeline: Draw a timeline with 5-7 distinct stages or milestones.
  2. Choose a topic: Choose a product or service lifecycle or a specific behavior or event to focus on.
  3. Define start and end points: Identify clear start and stop points within the subject to clearly frame the area of interest.
  4. Describe key stages: Ask participants to describe the most important stages or milestones along the timeline.
  5. Add details: Add details beneath the timeline, encourage participants to provide detailed descriptions of what happens at each step.
  6. Challenge Assumptions: After participants have described the current process, encourage them to challenge their thinking by asking questions such as: What could be added, removed, increased, decreased, or rearranged to improve the process?

An example: Improving parking in a parking garage

Consider the process of parking a car in a parking garage. This may involve these steps:

1. Drive into the garage.
2. Take a parking ticket.
3. Park and leave the car.
4. Go back to the car.
5. Pay for parking.
6. Get out of the garage.

Put them on a timeline and describe each of these steps in detail. Then explore ideas for improvement by considering e.g. changed order of the main points, Add a step or Remove a step.

Important considerations

When starting with the timeline method, keep the following in mind:

– Maintain a reasonable level of detail; don’t get bogged down in details.
– Ensure a clear start and stop point to focus your exploration.
– Distinguish new ideas by using a different color or format to differentiate them.


By incorporating the Timeline method into your creative process, you can unlock new perspectives and discover innovative solutions. Whether you work individually or in groups, this method offers a structured approach to expanding your creative thinking and generating unique ideas.

So grab that whiteboard and start exploring the creative possibilities available in your chosen subject area!