Ideation is an important phase of the five-step design-thinking process and helps to bridge the
gap between the other stages. Ideation is part of the process when team collaboration
is at its highest, and when free flowing conversation allows for the generation
of ideas and solutions for a defined problem.
In this article we will look at five ideation techniques
which will help to boost the generation of creative ideas amongst your team.
Take a look at them below:
Brainstorming is a common technique that is used by many
teams and is often the first approach we think of when it comes to generating
However, brainstorming doesn’t always go the way people
expect and sessions can turn into lengthy meetings where extroverts dominate
discussion and leave those with ideas unwilling to speak out due to fear of
Brainstorming sessions can be extremely fruitful if you
approach them in another way, and they can give everyone an opportunity to
bounce around brilliant and awful ideas as a team.
Try taking the “worst ideas first” approach and ask
participants to focus on generating bad ideas only at the beginning of the
session. They should consider everything that couldn’t work before you ask them
“What can we do to make these ideas work better?” and “Why doesn’t that work?”
This method reduces the fear of criticism and adds more
freedom into the flow of discussion because bad ideas are easier to find –
which makes idea generation easier and more fun.
Storyboarding is about arranging and categorising ideas and
solutions in more ordered and linear format. This process is best done after
initial brainstorming, as it can help teams to process ideas in a more logical
way after a majority of ideas have been thrown out there.
Storyboarding is a technique that puts ideas into action and
context, whilst opening up the opportunity for further ideas and suggestions.
Here’s how you can do it:
- Gather previously brainstormed ideas and
solutions on post-it notes
- Identify the user’s goal
- Identify the steps required for achieving that
- Categorise and order the generated ideas to fit
in the steps you have created
3. Crazy Eights
This is a drawing technique that is about generating a vast
number of ideas and focuses more on quantity of ideas rather than the quality
of the sketching.
Each participant will need a sheet of A4 paper ruled off
into eight section, they are then given 5 minutes to fill in the sections with
rough sketches linked to the issue or product for example. All of the sheets are
then placed on the wall and each participant must put two stickers on their
This process can continue until you find an idea everyone favours
or believes in the most. This idea can then be discussed and fleshed out
further before moving onto the next stage.
This technique is great for getting a greater number of
ideas in a short space of time, and its’s great if you want to give everyone a
chance to generate ideas more equally. There are a few steps for brainwriting,
but it’s quite a simple exercise:
- Give each participant a sheet of paper and task
them with generating three ideas within five minutes.
- Get each person to pass their sheet to the
person on their right.
- Ask each participant to build on their
colleague’s previous ideas. They can either work on improving them or can use
them as inspiration to generate three new ideas.
- Continue passing papers to the right until they reach
their initial person.
Once the papers have done a full circle, you can then get
participants to read out their favourite idea from their sheet which can be
discussed amongst the room.
5. Mind Mapping
Mind mapping is another classic approach to idea generation.
Mind maps are visual diagrams used to represent words, tasks, or other things linked
a central keyword or idea.
You simply write a word in the middle of a board, and from
that central word begin to draw lines out to other sections and elements that
relate to that central issue or idea. From here there are lines showing
connections, and sub-branches for other related ideas.
Mind mapping works well for the ideation of features, cases
or complex problems that benefit from being illustrated rather than just spoken
or written down.
Using the right ideation techniques in your ideation phase
will help you to generate more innovative ideas, which can help to shape the
future creation of designs and prototypes.
Next time you are generating ideas, try one of these techniques and see where
it takes you.