Mod 6- Part 2 Ideation Techniques with Prof. Bjorn Akselsen
As we mentioned in part 1 of the ideation series, there are literally hundreds of ideation techniques to choose from. Most people are familiar with the term called brainstorming and use it to refer to the ideation process, but brainstorming is just one way to generate solutions. Of all the ideation techniques I must say that brainstorming with the right group is one of my favorite social ways to come up with ideas. The other, believe it or not, is a “creative pause” which sounds counter-intuitive but I will explain why in the paragraphs below.
Brainstorming is simply getting together and building on others’ ideas. Preferably over a drink! Ideas are blended to create one good idea as indicated by the slogan “1+1=3”. Participants should be able to discuss their ideas freely without fear of criticism. You should create an environment where all participants embrace wild ideas and misunderstandings, and which will allow you to reach further than you could by simply thinking logically about a problem. Part one has some tips on how to facilitate great ideation sessions.
Creative pause or as I like to call it: “Sleeping on it”.
When our neurons are firing away against a seemingly impenetrable brick wall challenge, we can easily get stuck into unconstructive thinking patterns. We become anchored to an early idea or stream of thought or get caught up in negative thoughts surrounding the process. A creative pause gives us time to take a step back, reflect, extract ourselves from the traps we’ve cognitively set for ourselves, and re-approach the challenge with the renewed freshness of the mind. We want proactive thinking to lead the way – not reactive thinking, which is often negative.
The subconscious mind has a way of breaking down problems. It loves to chew on puzzles while we are doing other things. That’s when eureka moments hit me the most: while jogging, doing the dishes or the lawn or just when I wake up. It happens when least suspect it and I believe it was because I was actually working on that solution the whole time I thought I was doing something else. So, whenever, I hit a wall and I am not coming up with anything worth sharing with anyone else, I just take a break and work on something else or take a nap.
So you have a bunch of ideas now. What do you do with them? Only one is going to be in tomorrow’s pitch. Well, take some time, gather up all your notes, grab a cup of coffee and start evaluating which ones should be developed further. You can do this alone or with others…
Post Ideation: Evaluating Ideas
There should be a break between ideation and evaluation. This group evaluation at the end of the ideation session is critical to demonstrate that all ideas contributed are equally heard and considered, and show how each person’s involvement will impact the end result. If the participants in your ideation session don’t feel heard and valued, it is unlikely that they’ll ever participate again.
Methods range from using affinity diagrams to cluster ideas, to having each proposed design critiqued by the group (don’t forget to point out the positives!), to take a “vote” on the different suggestions. This process will help you understand the various goals and benefits of each idea, and which concepts resonate with the group when the time comes to move on to the prototyping stage. Keep in mind that you needn’t choose a single design — prototype the top three ideas (or combinations of several ideas) to test and discover which is the best concept. Parallel Design is an often-used management technique and problem-solving method where several people create an initial design from the same set of requirements. Each team works independently and, when finished, share their concepts with the larger group. Then, the design team considers each solution, and each designer uses the best ideas to further improve their own solution.
The probability of hitting the optimal region of the design space with a single idea is low. The probability of having one idea out of many come close to the ideal is high.
No ideas are worthless, put them all in your back pocket. Ideas are what make the world go round.
In the section below I tackled some of the “how might we” questions we developed as we reviewed some vector tablet apps. I paired each question with a popular ideation technique. The document should provide some insight into how we transition from problem statements to creative problem-solving. If you are interested in exploring more ideation techniques there are plenty of links in the resources section. Enjoy and don’t forget to pause every one and a while, you never know what is going to hit you.
Animations from the series:
Featured top video animation by Shawn Torres based on artwork by his son Marcus Torres.
Resources & References
Design Kit. (2019, October 06). Retrieved from http://www.designkit.org/methods#filter
Role-Play | Think Design. (2018, January 29). Retrieved from https://think.design/user-design-research/role-play
Affairs, A. S. f. P. (2014). Parallel Design. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from https://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/parallel-design.html
Kumar, V. (2012). 101 Design Methods: A Structured Approach for Driving Innovation in Your Organization. Wiley. Retrieved from https://www.amazon.com/101-Design-Methods-Structured-Organization/dp/1118083466
Ideation for Everyday Design Challenges. (2019, October 02). Retrieved from https://www.nngroup.com/articles/ux-ideation
Introduction to the Essential Ideation Techniques which are the Heart of Design Thinking. (2019, October 02). Retrieved from https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/introduction-to-the-essential-ideation-techniques-which-are-the-heart-of-design-thinking
Osborn, A. F. (1953/1979). Applied Imagination: Principles and Procedures of Creative Thinking. New York: Scribners.
OpenIDEO, 7 Tips on Better Brainstorming, 2011: https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/seven-tips-on…
IDEO, The IDEO Difference, by Catherine Fredman, 2002: https://www.ideo.com/images/uploads/news/pdfs/hemi…
Alex Osborn, How To Think Up, 1942
Alex Osborn, Applied Imagination, 1953
d.school, bootcamp leg, https://dschool.stanford.edu/resources/the-bootcamp-boo…
Donald W. Taylor, Paul C. Berry and Clifford H. Block, Does Group Participation When Using Brainstorming Facilitate or Inhibit Creative Thinking? In Administrative Science Quarterly Vol. 3, No. 1, Page 23-47, 1958:
Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman. Forget Brainstorming, 7/12/2010: http://www.newsweek.com/forget-brainstorming-74223
Jonathan Vehar. Don’t forget: Brainstorming works!, 2010:
Eight Tips for Better Brainstorming: http://www.designthinkingblog.com/http:/www.design…
David Allen, Five Simple Steps that Apply Order to Chaos: http://gettingthingsdone.com/fivesteps/
Dave Gray. Brainwriting. Gamestorming A toolkit for innovators, rule-breakers and changemakers, 2010:
Bryan W. Mattimore, Idea Stormers: How to Lead and Inspire Creative Breakthroughs, 2012
Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO, Change by Design, 2009
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