Ideation or idea generation is the creative process of generating, developing and communicating new ideas by involving users, stakeholders and staff.
The goal is to aim for large sets of ideas and to seek for quantity over quality.
Idea generation should be done when teams have a clear understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve after having done thorough research, gathered insights, and defined the design challenges (How Might We statements). This sets the foundation for your ideation process.
This phase involves generating ideas to address the design challenges at hand and quickly testing the most promising ideas following an iterative design approach instead of trying to perfect the first version of an idea that hasn’t been tested.
Who should be involved in idea generation?
Although ideation can be done individually, it is most effective when done together with a multidisciplinary team so people can build on each other's ideas and generate large sets of ideas in a short span of time.
Ideation is commonly done through inviting teams into a workshop session, facilitated by a designer and/or project manager who has been involved in user research. Participants gather with open minds to produce as many ideas as they can to address a problem statement in a facilitated, judgment-free environment.
What are the different ways to generate ideas?
Generating ideas requires creativity. However, there are also plenty of tools that you can use to help stimulate creativity and new ideas.
This activity promotes quantity over quality. Individually ask your teammates to fold an A$ piece of paper into 8 squares. You will need to draw 8 ideas in 8 minutes, spending one minute per idea in each square of the paper sheet.
This activity promotes both individual thinking as group brainstorming. You build good ideas from each other’s wild ideas.
Worst possible idea
You take an inverted brainstorming approach, starting with conceptualising a bad idea and flipping it to a positive idea through rotating ideas around and having different people work on them.
You develop a visual problem/design/solution-related story to illustrate a situation’s dynamics.
Other worlds, other ideas
When brainstorming we’re often constrained by real-life problems such as cost, implementation effort, feasibility etc. This activity's goal is to take your mind of constraints and think of ideas without any barriers. You can ask yourself question like:
- How would you solve this with unlimited money?
- How would you solve this if you could break the law?
- How would you solve this if you’re in a movie?
- How would you solve this if you had unlimited resources?
- How would you solve this of you worked for amazon?
How to organise and facilitate an ideation workshop
- Invite a multidisciplinary team to the workshop
- Share in advance your research summary, highlighting the research insights and problem statements created
- Explain the purpose of the ideation workshop and share the agenda.
- Welcome everyone into the session and review the workshops' goal
- Share participation guidelines and ground rules, encouraging out of the box thinking, empathy, creativity and that there is no such thing as ‘bad ideas’
- Review user research insights and problem statements (How Might We statements)
- Explain the chosen ideation activity and its purpose
- Activity time
- Team/individual sharing time
- Thank you and wrap up
- Send a thank you note to all participants, explaining the next phases of the projects and how their ideas will fit into the next stages.