Method overview

Creative thinkers don’t conjure great ideas from nowhere; instead, they look at common things in uncommon ways. In fact, new concepts are rarely wholly original—borrowing and adapting effectively is the secret of good designers. So, when you are at a loss for ideas, look at different yet analogous worlds for inspiration, by asking the question What would____do? This is a great way to break from conventional thinking and jump-start your team’s creativity.

Alternative Worlds challenges you to investigate how a successful organization or group outside your domain would approach a given issue. For example, if your team were tasked with reinvigorating a public library you might ask: What would Starbucks do? Doing so requires a deep understanding of their culture, practices, and procedures, in order to determine what aspects can be respectfully borrowed for your purposes. Adopting the perspective of a completely different domain is a novel way to shift perspective and uncover potentially breakthrough ideas.

The benefits of this method

  • Helps you see things from a fresh perspective.
  • Provides inspiration.
  • Leverages success from other domains.
  • Helps you think of new and unusual ideas.


Quick guide

  • Identify a topic for exploration.
  • Assemble a diverse group of collaborators.
  • Create a list of analogous topics.
  • Think about representative organizations.
  • Select a few alternative worlds to explore.
  • Orient the team to key attributes of each world.
  • If possible, fully immerse them in each world.
  • Ask: How would____solve our challenge?
  • Seek various ideas inspired by the new perspective.

Helpful hints

  • Choose a world that is very different from yours.
  • Resist the temptation to use obvious competitors.
  • Try to interview someone in the alternative world.

Combining LUMA methods into design recipes

The methods in the LUMA System are great on their own, but they are really powerful when combined into design recipes. Just like when you combine ingredients to make a tasty meal, you can also combine design methods to address challenges such as improving workplace culture or uncovering customer insights.

An example of a recipe from LUMA Workplace®:

Want to learn more about LUMA methods?