Everyone wants to come up with the next Uber or AirBnB but not everyone knows the best way to get there. Few of us have ground-breaking ‘shower moments’ that turn into profit-making enterprises. This is much like most people’s perception of innovation as an organic and free-flowing kind of magic. However, there’s a simple method anyone can follow to come up with 10 ideas in 10 minutes. Before we delve into ‘how’ to ideate, let’s first look how to set ourselves up for the best possible outcomes.
Know Why You Are Ideating
All good ideas stem from solving a true customer pain point or in the words of Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, a real ‘job-to-be-done.’ A valuable ideation session begins with a strong problem statement or question. Design Thinking experts have developed this approach into the art of framing problem statements into something known as “How Might We” questions.
The purpose of ideation is to uncover unique solutions to optimise the innovation potential of the solution. Ideation harnesses the team creativity and directs it towards creating a wide variety of innovative possibilities. Thus, the ideating group should aim to maximise the number of ideas generated in order to unlock the highest quality ideas. You don’t think your first idea is often your best idea do you? I didn’t think so. Let’s get ideating!
1. Give yourself 10 minutes
Setting a time limit is an important factor in ideation. During this time, the entire purpose is to generate as many ideas as possible. Ideation sessions can last up to 60 minutes, depending on the complexity of the problem statement, experience and engagement of the group. At Collective Campus, we usually run 10 – 15 minutes to maintain high energy levels but this can be extended as participants get more practice.
2. No naysayers allowed
It’s important for participants to feel confident in sharing their ideas within a safe environment. Therefore, participants should defer judgement or criticism of ideas, including both verbal and non-verbal cues. The time spent in ideation is solely for generating creativity and the highest possible number of ideas, so hold off on evaluating the ideas or getting too bogged down in the details. Creating a fun, friendly and supportive atmosphere encourages participants at all levels of experience and hierarchy to bring forth their ideas. Without egos or fear in the way, people have permission to share their most innovative ideas.
3. Get wild
Participants should be encouraged to think of wild and wacky ideas. Weird ideas can often give rise to breakthrough moments, leading to better solutions. The global design company, IDEO, succinctly explains that “in thinking about ideas that are wacky or out there we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials. We can then take those magical possibilities and perhaps invent new technologies to deliver them.”
4. Build on what came before
Ideation is most effective and efficient when participants leverage each other’s ideas to trigger new ideas. The benefits of building on previous ideas are manifold as they counteract negativity, promote creativity, encourage others and overcome the barriers of restrictive mindsets.
Hot tip: Encourage participants to begin each comment about an idea with ‘yes, and’ instead of ‘no, but’ to build upon ideas.
TL;DR and bonus tips
· Understand the purpose of your ideation session. Start with a problem statement to solve.
· Quantity breeds quality, aim for as many ideas as possible.
· Set a time limit and stick to it.
· Defer judgment or criticism, both verbal and non-verbal.
· Encourage wild and wacky ideas.
· Build on ideas by saying ‘yes, and’ instead of ‘no, but.’
· A picture says a thousand words so to keep things speedy, draw your idea.
· Energise the group by standing around a whiteboard, this active posture keeps participants engaged
· Be a better listener than a speaker. Keep the group to one conversation at a time. it’s easy to fall in love with our own brilliant ideas but it’s better to build on other’s ideas to optimise the innovation potential of the group
This report draws on our work driving change at large companies as well as from thought leadership in the space of not just management literature, but also evolutionary biology, psychology and sociology, because in order to see things clearly and influence human behaviour, we need to think holistically.