Purpose: Ideation methods allow participants to take all of the knowledge they have collected from Problem Framing and use it to generate many possible ways of achieving their vision of success. The Ideation phase of a workshop is intended to help participants generate many ideas (hundreds!), think outside the box, be unrealistically optimistic and work through any limiting beliefs they may have.

Materials: Each participant should have access to Post-It notes, markers, and flip-chart paper.

Time: Ideation, evaluation and the selection of one idea to carry forward will take 3 - 4 hours.

Step one: Start with a highly divergent and ‘unrealistic’ exercise such as ‘Solve your challenge with a….’ Have participants think about how they might ‘solve’ their challenge with a unique object such as a school bus or napkin or orchestra. This helps participants let go of the ideas they came in to the workshop with, and encourages a broader realm of thinking.

  • How would I solve my teams challenge with a ______________ ? (school bus)

  • How is this challenge similar to _____________ ? (Shopping Mall, the beach)

Have participants share back their ideas by doing a popcorn share.

Step two: Following on from this activity, engage participants with a round of Crazy 8’s. Make sure each participant has a stack of post-it notes for this activity. Give participants one minute to think of and write or sketch an idea as to how to solve the challenge their team is working on with 1) a service, 2) a product, 3) a job position, 4) a policy, 5) a program, 6) an ecosystem change, 7) a technology, 8) …? Have participants share their ideas within their teams.

Step three: Another ideation technique is by asking a series of HMW turnarounds. Have teams discuss their challenge and explore potential ideas by considering:

  • How might we….

    • ...amp up the good?

    • ...turn down the bad?

    • ...explore the opposite?

    • ...question an assumption?

    • ...use unexpected resources?

    • ...change the status quo?

    • ...the user solve this?

Step four: At this point, each team should have generated a good number of ideas for a potential prototype. Give teams 30-40 minutes to evaluate their ideas by asking:

  • Is this addressing a root cause? (identified in the problem statement)

  • Is this heading in the right direction? (toward the vision of success)

  • Is this innovative? (it hasn’t been tried before in this context)

At the end of this phase, each team should have a cluster of ideas that address the root cause, are moving in the right direction, and are innovative. The other ideas should be recorded somewhere for teams to be able to look back on, but have been eliminated as potentials for a prototype to move forward with.

Step five: Ask one person to stay and ‘host’ their team table while the rest of the team disperses around the room at other team tables. Once the room has re-organised itself, ask the hosts to present their evaluated ideas to the gathered participants, filling in gaps and clarifying concepts as necessary. Ask the gathered participants to offer up: new ideas, suggestions for improvement, examples they know of, questions about feasibility, etc. that will help that team re-evaluate and further develop their ideas. After about 20 minutes, invite participants to return to their team table. Have the hosts fill in their teammates on the feedback they received, and invite participants to share insights they had or useful elements they gleaned from hearing another team’s ideas.

Step six: Lightning Demos. Participants are asked to create one wicked solution, drawing on elements from the various ideas come up with over the course of the workshop.

  1. Give each participant a ¼ piece of flipchart paper, and ask them to give idea a title, write a few bullet points that convey the idea, and create a sketch of the concept. Give them 10 minutes or so for this part.

  2. In teams, invite each person to do a three minute presentation of their idea. During presentations, other teammates should ALWAYS BE CAPTURING. What is the big idea here that is useful? Ask participants to capture the elements they like and questions they have for each presentation on post-it notes.

  3. After the round of sharing, tape up everyone’s individual concept on the wall.

  4. Give each participant a number of dots (same number) and have them ‘heat map’ aspects of each presentation that they liked.

  5. After the heat map, discuss the highlights and potential pitfalls of each solution. Capture standout ideas and important objections. At the end, ask the sketcher if the group missed or misunderstood anything.

  6. Based on the presentations, the heat map and the feedback, have the team identify themes across various concepts, and which parts of each concept they would like to take forward into a final design. Note each aspect on a post-it note.

  7. Guided by the following questions, have teams create one final collaborative concept that will move forward to the prototyping workshop.

  • If this has been done before:

    • How did it succeed?

    • How did it fall short?

    • What has changed that would make it work now?

    • Is it bold enough?

    • Is it exciting?

    • How does it answer your HMW statement?

    • What elements would your users choose?

8. Finally, have the team create another concept sheet on a full piece of flip-chart paper. At the end of the workshop, have each team present the concept that they will be working on during the prototyping workshop.

Last updated