Ideation sessions are vital to the success of the Design Thinking process. An ideation session can help your organization develop new ideas and innovative solutions by challenging assumptions and commonly held beliefs.
The ideation phase of the Design Thinking process is arguably the most important as it is used to spark creativity and come up with fresh ideas that can give your organization a better understanding of its goals, existing solutions, and the current state of the market.
This post will focus on ideation sessions. We will not examine every phase of the Design Thinking process, but we may touch on other elements of Design Thinking as it relates to an ideation session.
We will explain the ideation process and examine some of the most popular and effective ideation techniques.
Ideation Sessions and the Design Thinking Process
The Design Thinking process involves more than just ideation sessions. Design Thinking begins with understanding and defining a problem and ends with prototyping and testing the design solution.
Ideation sits firmly in the middle of the Design Thinking process, and ideation sessions are the core around which Design Thinking revolves.
Despite the vital importance of ideation sessions, many organizations struggle to implement a fruitful ideation session strategy that can encourage productive ideation sessions as needed.
Every ideation session is different. However, there are several ideation techniques that your organization can employ to mix things up, challenge employees, and foster fun ideation sessions.
Many teams fail to prepare for ideation sessions. When this happens, it is difficult to have a successful ideation session that delivers potential solutions your organization can implement.
Finding the best idea and uncovering unexpected areas might require several ideation sessions, each using different ideation methods.
Idea generation is a creative process. During the ideation phase, generate as many ideas as possible, and don’t worry if there are bad ideas during brainstorming sessions. Your team will improve at generating ideas the more they participate in ideation sessions.
The Most Popular Ideation Techniques
There are several effective ideation methods. If your organization wants to generate innovative solutions, more ideas, and uncover unexpected areas, it should encourage participants to try several different ideation methods throughout the process of Design Thinking.
If your team is having trouble thinking of new ideas during the ideation phase, it can be helpful to take a creative pause. However, having a productive ideation session and generating new ideas can be difficult while under pressure.
Don’t rush a brainstorming session or put undue pressure on the process. This is not the most effective way to generate new ideas and will likely not yield the best ideas.
The most popular ideation techniques used during the UX design process of Design Thinking include the following:
- Worst possible idea
- Reverse thinking
Provocation is an intriguing ideation session technique that asks participants to consider new realities to extreme degrees and generate radical and unrealistic ideas to force the mind out of its comfort zone.
You might wonder how this technique can benefit the Design Thinking process. Unfortunately, stimulating the creative juices is not as simple as flipping a switch. Tracing the lineage of good ideas is often not a linear journey.
Asking team members to explore new extremes and come up with ideas to meet the challenges of these problems is a practice in stimulating creativity. So many ideas come to the mind when it naturally thinks outside of the box of conventional wisdom.
Provocation is an ideation technique that can help team members start thinking outside of the box when generating their own ideas.
Worst Possible Idea
The worst possible idea ideation technique asks team members to generate bad ideas to solve the problem statement.
For example, if the problem statement is searching for a way to keep users engaged with an app, a terrible idea would be to make the app unexitable by the user.
You might wonder why verbally sharing awful ideas would benefit Design Thinking. The worst possible idea is a fun exercise that not only provides comic relief and relaxes team members participating in the ideation session, but terrible ideas often have small elements of good in them.
Even if you don’t get one idea from this exercise, much like provocation, the worst possible idea technique can help your team members get more creative and foster a good team spirit and energy in the session.
All the ideas in the UX design process don’t have to be good to challenge assumptions and stimulate others’ ideas to solve the problem statement at hand.
Reverse thinking can help redefine existing solutions by asking team members to approach a problem statement from the opposite direction.
For example, suppose your design challenge is how to make the UX design of your product as accessible as possible. In that case, reverse thinking asks participants to think of ways the UX design can be as least accessible as possible.
The obvious solutions can bog down the Design Thinking process. By reverse thinking, your organization can generate several ideas that might not be obvious while looking at an issue head-on.
By flipping a design challenge on its head, it is possible to get additional insights that might have eluded you while considering the problem in a straightforward manner.
Brainstorming is one of the most popular ways others’ ideas are generated. A brainstorm session asks members to develop ideas that build off one another.
This technique is one of the most popular methods to solve a design challenge. However, during brainstorming, participants should never be criticized for ideas that are not very good.
In addition, participants that come up with ideas that are insightful and workable should not be rewarded.
This keeps ideas flowing and does not create an atmosphere of competition or anxiety among participants, which can lead to them shutting down and not producing ideas at all.
Brainstorming should be collaborative and open to all ideas. When executed properly, great ideas can be produced through this technique.
Brainwriting is very similar to brainstorming. However, ideas are written down instead of yelling out or discussing ideas.
Written ideas are passed to other participants, who then add ideas and iterate off the idea written in front of them.
Brainwriting can be a more effective ideation method for introverted people. However, if your team doesn’t particularly take to brainstorming, try brainwriting instead.
Brainwriting is essentially the same process as brainstorming, except it is written and not verbal.
The 6-3-5 ideation technique requires six team members to participate. Six participants are asked to write down three ideas which are then iterated five times, once by each of the other participants in the session.
6-3-5 is all about generating a volume of ideas. The thinking is that out of all the ideas generated by this method, some will be valuable. This method also generates ideas through team collaboration.
Great ideas are often built through collaboration and iteration.
Ideation is a vital component of development and design. There are several ways to approach ideation, including techniques that we didn’t cover in this post.
Ultimately, your organization needs to find ways to stimulate creativity and collaboration in whichever manner works best for it.
If you want to learn more about ideation or need ideation guidance, reach out to an experienced development and design partner like Koombea.