Walt Disney’s creative thinking technique – business ideas generator

Walt Disney’s Creative Thinking Technique

Walt Disney summarized his creativity in one word: Imagineering. The term “Imagineering” combines the words imagination and engineering. Imagineering enabled him to transform the dreams, fantasies and wishes of his imagination into concrete reality.

Disney’s thinking strategy involved exploring something using three different perceptual positions. An insight into these positions comes from the comment made by one of his animators that:

“…there were actually three different Walts: the dreamer, the realist, and the spoiler (critic). You never knew which one was coming into your meeting.”

Disney’s thinking technique synthesized three different strategies: the dreamer, realist, and the critic. A dreamer without a realist is often not able to translate fantasies into tangible reality. A dreamer and critic become engaged in constant conflict. A dreamer and realist can create things but find that a critic helps to evaluate and refine the final products.

Following are descriptions of each strategy:

DREAMER. A dreamer spins innumerable fantasies, wishes, outrageous hunches and bold and absurd ideas without limit or judgment. Nothing is censored. Nothing is too absurd or silly. All things are possible for the dreamer. To be the dreamer, ask: If I could wave a magic wand and do anything I want – what would I create? How would it look? What could I do with it? How would it make you feel? What is the most absurd idea I can conceive? or in short complete the sentence “I’d love to …”

REALIST. The realist imagineers the dreamer’s ideas into something realistic and feasible. He would try to figure out how to make the ideas work and then sort them out in some meaningful order. To be the realist, ask: How can I make this happen? What are the features and aspects of the idea? Can I build ideas from the features or aspects? What is the essence of the idea? Can I extract the principle of the idea? Can I make analogical-metaphorical connections with the principle and something dissimilar to create something tangible? How can I use the essence of the idea to imagineer a more realistic one?

CRITIC. The critic reviews all the ideas and tries to punch holes in them by playing the devil’s advocate. To be the critic, ask: How do I really feel about it? Is this the best I can do? What can make it better? Does this make sense? How does it look to a customer? A client? An expert? A user? Is it worth my time to work on this idea? Can I improve it?

Here we will look at an example idea to build a smarthphone app for cooking with friends.

DREAMER: I would love to…

  • put favorite recipy
  • app provides recipies
  • bring people together
  • gather all my friends
  • eat healthy food
  • make new friends
  • have great time at work
  • cook anywhere
  • change my lifestyle
  • share my culture
  • share problems during lunch
  • learn to cook
  • experience new food
  • feel important
  • save money for lunch
  • have new way of eating food
  • save time
  • have better eating habits


  • do it to save money for lunch
  • sell the app
  • affiliate program with food stores
  • corporates will pay for it
  • why will people use it?
  • how will people connect?
  • how to be sure people will bring ingredients
  • how to set up a location?
  • how do we make it healthy
  • how to select a good time for all?
  • how to split the cost for ingredients ?
  • how to share culture?


  • Why should people come?
  • Why would i rely on others for lunch?
  • Why do i have to eat with people i don’t like?
  • Why would i pay for it ?
  • Why corporates will buy it?
  • Why do we have to do it everyday?
  • Why do i want to eat healthy?
  • Why to be social?
  • Why to talk about work during lunch?
  • Why to share my time with otherS?