How to use tool:
The Concept Fan is a way of finding different approaches
to a problem when you have rejected all obvious solutions.
It develops the principle of 'taking one step back' to get
a broader perspective.
To start a Concept Fan, draw a circle in the middle of a
large piece of paper. Write the problem you are trying to
solve into it. To the right of it radiate lines
representing possible solutions to the problem. This is
shown in Figure 1:
It may be that the ideas you have are impractical or do
not really solve the problem. If this is the case, take a
'step back' for a broader view of the problem.
Do this by drawing a circle to the left of the first
circle, and write the broader definition into this new
circle. Link it with an arrow to show that it comes from
the first circle:
Use this as a starting point to radiate out other ideas:
If this does not give you enough new ideas, you can take
yet another step back (and another, and another…):
The idea of the Concept Fan was devised by Edward de Bono
in his book 'Serious Creativity' - this is one of the
books reviewed on right-hand side of this page. The book
shows how to use many similar tools.
The Concept Fan is a useful technique for widening the
search for solutions when you have rejected all obvious
approaches. It gives you a clear framework within which
you can take 'one step back' to get a broader view of a
To start a concept fan, write the problem in the middle of
a piece of paper. Write possible solutions to this problem
on lines radiating from this circle.
If no idea is good enough, redefine the problem more
broadly. Write this broader definition in a circle to the
left of the first one. Draw an arrow from the initial
problem definition to the new one to show the linkage
between the problems. Then radiate possible solutions from
this broader definition.
Keep on expanding and redefining the problem until you
have a useful solution.