5 ideation techniques to boost your team’s idea generation

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:

1. Brainstorming

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 ideas.

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 being “wrong”.

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.

2. Storyboarding

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 goal
  • 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 favourite idea(s)

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.

4. Brainwriting

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.

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Tim Spafford

Tim is a student who works hard to get a degree in finance and build a successful career in business consulting. Being a student and living in London Tim has a real-life experience in budgeting, saving, money making, traveling and having fun.