‘Ideation’ is defined as the process of forming ideas. It forms the basis of a business plan and fuels its progression. An idea is what launches the business, and ideas are what will sustain it. Hence, the value of ideation for an entrepreneur shouldn’t be underestimated.
However, generating ideas is easier said than done. Combing through a collection of ideas to identify the most viable ones is a process that requires time and dedication. Entrepreneurs must learn how to incorporate various ideation techniques into their business strategies, as well as identify which techniques produce the best possible results.
10 Effective Ideation Techniques
Rosabeth Moss Karter, the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor of business at Harvard, is a proponent for idea-fueled organisations. She states that ‘many companies must relearn instead to trust their people and encourage them to use neglected creative capacities to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.’
The simplest ideation technique on this list which only requires a pen and a sheet of paper to write on. It can be used by one person who lists any ideas they produce over a defined period. There is no limit to the scale and size of these ideas as the purpose is to produce as many as possible.
After conducting a braindump, an entrepreneur can organise a team meeting composed of either all their employees or a representative from each department. The team members will then bounce their ideas off each other through open discussion, which will generate new ones over time.
Instead of generating new ideas from scratch, the team can present new potential problems or challenges to existing ones. This process would then inspire individuals to produce solutions which generate additional ideas. This technique is most effective when incorporated simultaneously with traditional brainstorming.
After singling out a concept or goal for consideration, a facilitator tapes as many sheets of paper as there are participants to the wall. Each sheet represents an ‘idea station’ and each participant must add their own idea to their assigned station. They then move on to the next station, comment on the next participant’s idea station, and so forth. Once every participant has contributed to each idea station, their ideas are evaluated and ranked.
Each participant writes down an idea on a piece of paper and then passes it on to the next participant for evaluation. After each participant has contributed an idea and it’s evaluated by the other team members, the ideas are ranked based on which best fits the project’s objectives.
This is an ideal technique for the artistically inclined team. It involves each team member dividing a sheet of paper into eight squares and then taking eight minutes to fill it up with eight different ideas. After the allocated time is up, each team member can select two to three of their best ideas to present.
As described on Netmind, SCAMPER involves asking questions based on its acronym: Substitute (What can be replaced?), Combine (What can be combined?), Adapt (What can be added?), Modify (What can be modified/improved?), Put to other use, Eliminate (What can be removed?), Reverse (What can be reversed/rearranged?). As with reverse brainstorming, it’s useful for producing solutions to existing or potential problems.
This involves taking one central concept, represented as an image in the centre of the page or board, and then linking ideas to it. Mindmapping allows for a visual representation of the thought process behind each idea, making it easy to communicate to an audience. It’s also a dynamic technique that offers room for creativity in displaying these ideas.
If an entrepreneur and their team are willing to push their creative limits, they can turn to provocation to produce out-of-the-box ideas. Provocation involves concocting unusual scenarios – termed ‘po’ for shorthand – to generate ideas. For example, a fish food company might be looking for new ways to promote a new product. Hence a provocation or ‘po’ would be to advertise it underwater. While absurd, it can generate ideas related to underwater-themed print advertisements and commercials.
With so many ideation techniques that cover different mediums and areas, a company can opt to incorporate several during a workshop. This enables all employees to gather and participate in many activities designed to stimulate creativity. One workshop may utilise as many techniques as time allows, or a series of workshops can be organised with each dedicated to a particular technique.
Ideation covers a broad range of techniques, each of which covers a different creative outlet. An entrepreneur can cycle through as many types as they need in order to find the best fit for their needs The more they’re used, the more adept participants become at gleaning ideas from them. As a result, the business will reap enough creativity to keep itself up and running for years to come.