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March 26, 2018

What is an ideation method? Methods of ideation and brainstorming

Ideation Methods

Everyone has ideas which come and goes, but not all ideas become practical. While some ideas as just theoretical, others are practical, yet they won’t see the daylight due to a variety of reasons. Proper mentoring, creativity, investments all leads to the failure of ideas. Here comes the process of ideation. It is a creative method of initiating, building and communicating ideas through various techniques. Ideation can be said as a cycle, something which actually is never ending and thus is an integral part of the design process. The aim of ideation in the design process is to create a huge quantity of ideas which can then be filtered by the team and filtered into the most practical, best as well as the most innovative ones in order to motivate recent and superior design solutions and products.

Stages of Ideation

Well-Planned ideation has always relied on three key steps that an organization must undergo. They are Generation, Selection, and Implementation. Making use of ideation to counter a specific problem is the starting point towards success. The organizations must be ready to control each step and have the appropriate personals and processes in place.

 

Generation

Being the first step of ideation, generation is a significant step. Since ideation is not a generic process, it can be broken down into various levels based on the growth of the organization. By analyzing the levels, the team can exploit the ideation methods beyond the orthodox methodology.
Consumer insights and core competencies are two major opportunities for using ideation. The principle of carrying out traditional market research in the form of surveys and focus groups and applying the results is Consumer Insights. But, this depends on the number of responses and the way the answers are recorded in a survey. Focus groups are successful but won’t reach the level of online ideation due to limitations in the cost as well as in other factors which stop them from retrieving a larger group of participants. The leverage of ideation to build upon a business’s capabilities is Core competencies. Here, the business seeks new markets or applications to upgrade the existing products and services.

Selection

Ideas are selected quite before the process of ideation has even started. By knowing the criteria for the evaluation of ideas, identity of the team involved and the processes for transferring the ideas to the respective teams for implementation, the selection process can be carried out efficiently. Organizing the ideas into meaningful groups with the help of labels and tags are traits of a well-designed selection process.
Implementation
An organization’s capability to gather the top ideas and make them practice with the right workflow is the process of implementation. These workflows are very important and have to be completed before the launch of any ideation. Implementation teams accept new ideas from outside and are usually applauded for trying out the new approach.

Implementation

An organization’s capability to gather the top ideas and make them practical with the right workflow is the process of implementation. These workflows are very important and have to be completed before the launch of any ideation. Implementation teams accept new ideas from outside and are usually applauded for trying out the new approach.

Some Popular Ideation techniques

Brainwriting

Brainwriting is the type of brainstorming where the participants note down their ideas (usually three ideas are asked to be written) regarding a specific problem instead of shouting out the ideas. The paper with the ideas is then passed on to another person who reads the ideas written and then adds new ones as well as improves the ones already written in it. This process is continued for around 15 minutes after which the paper is put forward for discussion. This unique and innovative method has been applauded by everyone alike.
Brainwriting is easy compared to the other techniques and is widely accepted due to the same reason. Sometimes though, it has to be avoided as well. When people find difficulty in expressing ideas by writing, other methods should be used so that the idea is not lost. People are not quite familiar with brainwriting when compared to brainstorming. People who follow a highly structured product design and development process might find brainwriting a bit too radical.

SCAMPER

Proposed by Alex Osborne in 1953 and then further developed by Bob Eberle in 1971 in his book; SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development, SCAMPER is an idea generation method which uses action verbs as prompt. This is a popular technique used to help a person in bringing new ideas as well as improvements to existing ones. SCAMPER is an acronym where each letter stands for an action verb which in turn stands for a prompt for creative ideas.

 

Substitute

This technique pivots on services, products or solutions that can be replaced with something else. During the substitute part of SCAMPER, the team makes decisions to substitute parts of processes with new parts.

Combine

This technique examines the chance of combining two ideas, processes or products into one single efficient output. There are instances when on combining two innovative ideas; it can lead to a new product or technology which increases the market strength. If we take an example like if we merge technology in the phone with the technology in a digital camera, it produces a new revolutionary product in the telecommunications industry.

Adjust

Adjust is a brainstorming technique that focuses on adjusting or altering products or services for a better output. These adjustments or alterations can vary between small changes to quite large changes in the whole project. Adjusting is one of the most efficient techniques to solve problems by improving the existing system.

Modify

This technique refers to modifying the products, services or processes in a way that brings out more capabilities than the existing products, services or processes. This is different from adjustment as it focuses on the overall process.

Put to another use

This technique focuses on how to put the current process or product into another process. It also focuses on how to use the existing product to solve problems.

Eliminate

This technique identifies parts of the process that can be eliminated to improve the overall service, product or process. It also explores the unnecessary parts of the project and eliminates them. The unnecessary resources are a liability for the project to achieve success. By eliminating these resources, the capability to innovate and allocate more resources to the organization is possible.

Reverse

The reverse technique explores the potential for innovation while reversing the order of the process in the production line. Reversing the process or even a part of it can help solve problems or produce more output.

Synectics

This problem solving as well as creative idea generation technique was developed by George M Prince and William J.J. Gordon. It stimulates thought processes of which the person under observation may be unaware of. This technique approaches problem-solving and creativity in a logical manner. Through Synectics, the processes which make up the creative part can be taught and described. By comprehending the irrational and emotional aspects of an idea, it is quite easy to solve the problems. The application of Synectics can be extended to use creative behavior tools. A technique called ‘springboarding’ was invented as part of the creative behavior tools. This technique includes brainstorming and infuses it with metaphors. Compared to brainstorming, Synectics is more demanding.

What is the Gordon method?

Created by the developmental psychologist Thomas Gordon in the 1960s, Gordon method is an intricate system of communication which is used to set boundaries in an understandable and respectful manner. In this method, everyone takes responsibility for their actions and have equal footing while they are unaware of the problem. This method shows detailed revelation to stay away from defining the problem too soon and limiting its possible solutions. This technique was created after Gordon encountered an issue with the brainstorming technique. Here the team starts with putting forward a generalized concept linked to the problem. The team then responds by inputting a number of ideas. This will lead to the concept being developed. Finally, when the main problem is revealed, this will enable the team to suggest the implementation of the solution.

How do you generate new ideas?

Ideas are there in everyone’s mind, but good ideas that can become practical are less. Ideas can be good as well as great. The biggest challenge in generating great ideas is freeing the mind from the normal, boring thoughts that occupy most of the brain. Applying various techniques will be used only when there is sufficient knowledge regarding the problem. While there are different methods to think and generate new ideas, few of the widely followed methods and techniques are given below.

Researching on the problem-related topics online as well as offline

Going through business books will expand the mind and open it to more creative thinking which will lead to more stimulation of ideas. At the same time, reading books of other topics will open mind towards a different perspective on the same problem. Referring the internet is another way which nowadays is preferred more by people. Look out for necessary articles and link one another so that as a chain, the whole idea will be presented on the net if not in an obscure way.

Break the usual pattern

Everyone has distinct patterns of thinking which are followed in the same manner all the time. By breaking these traditional patterns which makes the mind in an autopilot mode, new ideas in a whole new perspective can be generated. Assumptions are made when there is no surety regarding the solution or idea presented. This assumption has to be challenged which will lead to new possibilities. Instead of starting to solve the problem in the usual way, if a new way is approached from a different angle, new insights to the problem are presented forward which will enable the generation of new ideas.

There are moments when a feeling comes that no new ideas are coming to the mind. During these times, think the reverse. Instead of focusing on how to solve the problem, think about how to create the problem. This will enable the team to understand how the problems are created. Once the root of the problem is understood, it is easy to find the solutions.

Trial and Error method

A lot of ideas don’t see the light because the person is afraid of failure. But the major point that goes unnoticed is that only when the idea is tested out, the level of success or failure can be found out. Failing is part of the process. Everyone who is or has ever been successful has failed at some point in their life. By learning from the failures using trial and error method, new ideas can be generated along the way which makes it difficult for the failure look like a failure, but rather as an important part of success. By making a list of what all went wrong and what all worked, it is easy to focus on what is going to come next.

Using Structured Exercises

Structure creates creativity. Simple exercises can get the brain and mind working simultaneously in a focused fashion to yield great ideas. For example, instead of working alone on a project, share the ideas with someone else which will lead to sharing of ideas, generation of new ideas and also serve as a platform for relaxation exercises. It should be noted that all of these methods require a commitment of energy and time, which will surely lead to great ideas. By following these methods, the chances of a new idea getting generated is quite high. It is important to record them and set a plan of accountability as well after which the idea can be executed.

Employ Enablers

Enablers are a new terminology which not everyone knows. They are actions as well as activities that help to generate ideas instead of directly providing it. Enablers are said always to create a positive atmosphere. By believing ideas will come to the mind, positive reinforcement has worked wonderfully for idea generation. It is important to engage oneself to do normal chores which will rest the mind as well. It has been proven that the surroundings and environment have a major role in idea generation. If the person is in comfortable surroundings, he or she can perform better.

Make Connections

By connecting with more and more people will lead to one possible positive outcome – entire new ideas and thoughts will pop up in mind. At the same time of generating new ideas, bring together ideas that have never been tried before and see whether they become successful or not. Talking and networking to people is one of the best ways to generate new ideas. They will help to generate new ideas and also give a whole new perspective to the old ones. Sometimes, simply modifying the way a problem is viewed can produce insight and generate new ideas.

Socialize Outside Your Normal Circles

While it is important to meet friends and colleagues to get new ideas, it is also important to start conversations with people beyond the normal circle like using LinkedIn. Since they don’t know the common thought patterns and old stories, a refreshing perspective will give way to new thinking and idea generation. Getting someone else’s perspective is one of the most helpful ways to generate new ideas because there are chances they see the same problem differently.

How to run an ideation session

Before beginning the session, the first thing to be made sure of is the problem or topic on which ideas are to be generated. Enough accessories should be kept so that each person can utilize them to give out their ideas in a systematic way rather than shouting like in a flea market. There should be no kind of restrictions on ideas, however crazy they might seem to be. Bad ideas do exist, but when they are encouraged, sometimes the bad ideas are the ones that lead to the breakthrough ideas which will change the entire thinking process. More than individual idea generation, more fun arises when teams are formed as many minds are better than one. The last but the most important part of any ideation session is the refinement process. Each idea received and noted is in its raw state. It is important to analyze each idea and determine its feasibility. There would be some ideas that can be combined with the others and made a much better idea.
It is important to have an ideation session once in a while. It is a good strategy for making big changes and shaking things up. However, it is to be noted that ideation sessions should not be the only source of creative ideation. Instead, it can be made more effective by practicing these techniques systematically.

Conclusion

It can be rightly said that ideation is a very practical strategy for employee engagement and customer. Businesses that have experienced success using ideation have set the maximum effort to initiate workflows and benchmark for assessing the results and carrying out actions on the best ideas and problem-solving techniques. More than all, understandable and systematic communication between all the members in the ideation process is important. This is not only to let them know where the ideas stand regarding its status but also to keep them inspired to want to present more ideas in the future. Having the ability to generate new ideas is an important work skill nowadays. This skill can be rightly acquired by intentionally practicing techniques that coerce the mind to forge new connections, consider new perspectives and break old thought patterns.

 

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