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Attribute Listing

When to use it
Use Attribute Listing when you have a situation that can be decomposed into attributes - which itself can be a usefully creative activity.
Particularly useful with physical objects. You can use it elsewhere, too.
Highly rational style. Suitable for people who prefer analytic approaches. Good for engineering-type situations.

  X        Long

X X        Psychological

X X     X  Group

How to use it

List attributes

For the object or thing in question, list as many attributes as you can. Thus, for example, a screwdriver has attributes of 'applies torque', 'metal shaft', etc.
It can also be useful to first break the object down into constituent parts and look at the attributes of each part in question. Thus you may break the screwdriver into the handle, the shaft and the tip. The tip then has attributes of 'fits screw', 'thin blade', etc.

Consider value of attributes

For each attribute, ask 'what does this give'? Seek the real value of each attribute. It is also possible that attributes have 'negative value' -- ie. they detract from the overall value of the object.
For example, the handle of a screwdriver being examined has attributes of 'hexagonal' which have the value of 'helps grip' and 'stops rolling on workbench', but has negative value of 'sharp corners'.

Modify attributes

Finally look for ways in which you can modify the attributes in some way. Thus you can increase value, decrease negative value or create new value.
Thus, for example, you could modify the attributes of the screwdriver handle to be 'comfortable grip' by adding a rubber sleeve.


The attributes of a customer service desk include opening hours, friendliness of service and availability of literature. You could change the opening hours to weekends (but closed during low hours during the week). Friendliness could be improved by keeping records of people asking for help and then asking them later how things went. And so on.

How it works

Attribute Listing works as a decompositional approach, breaking the problem down into smaller parts that can be examined individually. All things have attributes which are sometimes overlooked. By deliberately focusing on these, you can find new ways to be creative.

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