Morphological Box

Engineering Areas
Analysis & problem definition, Ideation & Conceptual design
Group or individual
Group, Individual
Amount of people
Up to 15, 15-25, 25+
Type of activity
Collaborative team setting
Between half an hour and one hour
Type of class
Practice-based, Theory-based


What is this technique about

This technique works as a more structured version of brainstorming, as participants create a “morphological box” with rows and columns, as well as layers in a 3D state. First, the group creates a list of keywords related to the problem. Then, the main ideas and concepts are grouped to create a “morphological box”. This grid should be used for the main idea and key concepts inside the “box”. You can evaluate the ideas for the most effective solutions and start implementing them.

Where does it come from 

This method, which uses “decomposition and forced association” two common principles of creativity, was discovered by Fritz Zwicky (Ritchey, 1). The problem is divided into component variables and the possible values defined for each.

For which purposes it is used (why in your engineering teaching)

There are problems in engineering that are from different fields and can be solved by different techniques. This technique can help you figure out where to start. Since the first topics of the courses are usually introductory, this technique may not work for the first topics.

How to use it

To use this technique, you can first start with a short and clear speech describing the problem. Next you will need to prepare the morphological box or multidimensional matrix containing all possible solutions. For the morphological box to function functionally, all possible solutions and ideas must be studied and evaluated to achieve the goals. Identify attributes and values and things about the situation that can be changed, taking into account the variability. To learn more, choose a subset of two to six variables that are normally important parts of the situation. Finally, look for a way to combine items in lists. A matrix can be used if there are only two lists. You can also write them on cards and choose from six ‘hats’ (Once you start thinking about it, you’ll be amazed at the number of ways.).

How to implement this techniques online

For this method, it will be necessary to create rubrics that can increase or decrease the number of columns and rows according to your variables and options. Additionally, a whiteboard tool would be useful for this technique to see your attributes and values in a list. 

Preparation, what do before the session

    1. Decide whether you will apply the technique individually or in a group study.
    2. Prepare the keywords related to the problem or problems on a Word document in advance.
    3. Calculate whether the keywords you write for each problem will correspond to your number of students.
    4. If you are going to have your students in groups, this number may decrease and vice versa.
    5. You can use an application or software where participants can create three-dimensional shapes – define it beforehand.
    6. Introduce the tool you will work on to your students beforehand and prepare templates in the whiteboard if necessary.

During application, i.e., while giving the session

    1. If you chose to work with groups, assign a moderator for each group to collect data.
    2. Introduce the concepts you have chosen for the problems and give them five minutes to think about these concepts.
    3. Ask your students to identify qualifications, values ​​and things related to the problem that can be changed or changed. Encourage your students to find them.
    4. Inform your students that they are expected to combine different items with each other.
    5. Ask them to note how they evaluated qualifications, values ​​and things related to the situation or problem.
    6. Send the students to breakout rooms, give them 20 minutes there to work on the task.
    7. Follow up on how students combine different items by entering the rooms from time to time.
    8. While applying the technique, make sure that all the participants follow the rules regarding the technique and keep time.

Follow-up, about what to do after the session

    1. Participants can share the result in an online report or share a screen and verbally explain it to other participants. Additionally, you can provide feedback.

Examples and/or testimonials

The below is an example of how the method was prepared and facilitated in February 2021 by a student group during the course “Megatrends and Technological Innovation” held by Prof. Dr. Patricia Wolf at the University of Southern Denmark.

ABC method, Lyreco-challenge, 2021

DDeep voiceDocumentsDriving
J JellyJoin
NNoise New
X  Xray
YYell Youtube

Morphological box, Lyreco challenge, 2021

1 – SabrinaHumanQualityTeaching
2 – AlCommunicationFutureInformation
3 – IsabelCommunicationOrganizedFuture
4 – ChristianHumanorganizedquality
5 – FrederikPowerFutureInformation
6 – RazwanBlindIntelligentAssistance
7 – Laura CommunicationTechnologysupport
8 – JulieIntelligenceEfficientFuture
9 – Kristian DrivingEfficiencyTechnology
10 – Chrysa BlindTechnologyGuidance
11 – Alexandra CommunicationEfficientOnline
12 – Aleksandra TechnologyOpportunityPromise
13 – Morten blindEfficentfuture
14 – Christin Speechsmartphonesupport
15 – Matheus IntelligenceOrganizedfuture
16 – Camilla AssistantGadgetGuidance
17 – Morten Technologyteachingopportunity

Tools needed

    • A whiteboard tool
      • Miro
      • Concept Board
    • An assessment tool
      • Roobrix
      • Rubistar



Verrocchio Institute for Innovation Competence GmbH. Morphological Box. ask-flip. Available at:

Wolfson, B. Morphological Analysis. Available at:

Creativity, European Interest Group on Creativity and Innovation. Morphological analysis (problem-solving). Available at:


Childs, P., Imperial College London. (n. D.). Principles of Morphological Analysis – Imperial College London Creative Thinking: Techniques and Tools for Success. [Video]. Coursera Inc. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

SVD. (2018, March 19). Creativity Tools: Morphology. [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

The Virtual Linguistics Campus. (2012, March 18). MOR106 – Morphological Analysis (PDE). [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from


Geum, Y., & Park, Y. (2016). How to generate creative ideas for innovation: a hybrid approach of WordNet and morphological analysis. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 111, 176-187

Ritchey, T. (1998, May). Fritz Zwicky, morphologie and policy analysis. In 16th EURO conference on operational analysis, Brussels

Isenmann, R., & Zinn, S. (2015). Morphological box for education on sustainable development: approach and examples at the munich university of applied sciences. In Managing Intellectual Capital and Innovation for Sustainable and Inclusive Society: Managing Intellectual Capital and Innovation; Proceedings of the MakeLearn and TIIM Joint International Conference 2015 (pp. 1027-1027). ToKnowPress

Seidenstricker, S., & Linder, C. (2014). A morphological analysis-based creativity approach to identify and develop ideas for BMI: a case study of a high-tech manufacturing company. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 18(5-6), 409-424


Allen, M. S. (2013). Morphological Creativity: How To Unleash The Miracle Of Your Hidden Brainpower. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Chechurin, L., & Collan, M. (2019). Advances in Systematic Creativity. Springer