Rapid Ideation

Purpose

To generate ideas in a short amount of time, explore alternative solutions, consider insights from a broader group, and build enthusiasm.

When To Run This

  • You’ve made a How Might We statement that summarises the challenge.
  • You want a structured way to come up with ideas or solutions to address opportunities.

Time

1 - 4 hours

Input

Materials

  • Markers
  • Post-It notes 
  • A4 Paper
  • Templates (depending on ideation technique)
  • Butchers paper
  • Wall space to display ideas

Downloads

TheSteps

Prepare:Prepare:

  • Have a clear idea of your outcomes. These will depend on which state you’re running ideation in — for example, you can use it as a research (‘Explore’) tool or a design (‘Make’) tool.

  • Define the need(s) and use this as the starting point for the session. Ideally, your needs should be in the form of researched-based How Might We statements (HMW).

  • Alternatively, if a client comes to you with an idea they’d like to build upon, start by working with them to identify which parts are important and use those to form your HMWs.

  • Plan the session. Think about how many ideas you want to generate and pick a range of techniques you can use to help you achieve them. (For example techniques, see step 8.)

Action It:Action It:

  • Do a warm up exercise (optional) to get your team comfortable with idea generation. The point is to show three key principles of creativity and idea generation: ‘quantity is a condition for quality’, ‘build on ideas of others’, and ‘the ideas we come up with are often all the same’. Examples of warm-ups are Drawing Apples or Create your Superhero.

  • Introduce Ideation Principles to your team.

    1. Yes, and... Build on the ideas of others by saying yes, and… Listen actively for opportunities to build and elaborate.
    2. More is more. At the start, it’s about quantity. Focus on getting down as many ideas as possible rather than trying to come up with really “good” ideas.
    3. No bad ideas. Don’t be afraid — sometimes it’s the silliest idea that can lead to innovation. 
    4. Postpone judgment. Resist the urge to evaluate the ideas as they flow out, you can judge them later.
    5. Team is everything. Get the best out of your team by making sure all members are included. Create space for everyone to contribute their ideas.
    6. Write down everything, even if an idea is a key phrase on a post-it note. When idea generation process is moving quickly, things are easily forgotten.
  • Introduce the HMW or key question to the team.

  • Ideation techniques. There are many ways to ideate, here are a few techniques you can start with. Give your teams a set amount of time to use one or a combination of techniques — it should be long enough to develop a flow of ideas, but short enough that they feel some pressure.

    1. Newsflash 
      1. Print out the template or get your participants to draw a T shape on blank paper as per the template.
      2. Write a catchy title for an idea.
      3. Draw what this may look like (it can be simple, it just needs to be distinguishable when hung on the wall).
      4. Write 3 key points about the idea.
      5. As a team, come up with as many ideas as possible in 6 minutes.
    2. Idea relay
      1. Build on each other’s ideas continuously. Team members pass ideas amongst themselves and challenge each other to develop them by adding new aspects and angles before passing them on.
    3. Stimulus cards
      1. Introduce prompt cards that help the team solve the problem through a different lense. For example, a card could ask “how would Apple solve this?” or flip the question to a negative form “how would you create the worst flavour ketchup?”.
    4. SCAMPER technique
      1. SCAMPER is acronym for seven different thinking approaches.
      2. Substitute - which parts in the product, service or solution can be replaced with something else?
      3. Combine - what happens if you merge two ideas, stages of the process or product into one?
      4. Adapt - how could you adjust an existing product or service to make it better?
      5. Modify, Minify, or Magnify - change the process, or your perspective of it, in a way that opens opportunities for innovative solutions.
      6. Put to another use - what happens if you use the current product or process for a different purpose? How would you use it to solve problems?
      7. Eliminate - which parts can be removed to improve the process, product or service?
      8. Reverse or rearrange the order of a process or production line to explore the potential opportunities.
  • Review the pool of ideas. Give the team 10 minutes to get a good overview of the ideas, remove duplicates, and make sure everything is understandable.

  • Group similar ideas and themes. Encourage the team to develop ideas in this process and give each group a title if appropriate.

Next Steps:Next Steps:

  • Select ideas. Define the criteria of a “great idea” with the product owner and then choose the best one, using methods like Impact / Effort Matrix or voting with sticky dots.

  • Flesh out the selected idea. You could do this by running a Future State Storyboarding session or Rapid Prototyping.

Considerations

Considerations

  • Negativity kills ideas. Make sure you build on each others’ ideas with phrases like “great, what if we did this?” instead of "this wouldn't work”.
  • The whole team should feel equal. Sometimes having a senior level person in ideation session can block creativity. 
  • The more ideas you have in the ideation stage the greater the chance of generating an innovative outcome. 
  • Idea generation can be draining so plan breaks and snacks to keep your team fresh and the ideas flowing.
Signals

Signals

It's Going Well When:

  • There’s a high energy level in the room
  • Team members are adding on to each other’s ideas

Watch Out For:

  • Quieter people being left out of the session - pay attention to everyone’s input and encourage the quiet ones to join in

Whatsnext?