Ideation in innovation

Innovation is more important to businesses than ever before and, while ideas hardly ever pan out as originally intended, ideation is key as part of the innovation process. 

A conscious effort to improve the idea generation process should be a priority for organizations across all business sectors. 

What is Ideation?

Ideation is quite simply the process whereby ideas and solutions are generated. It can involve several techniques but should facilitate a company-wide approach as this will statistically yield more ideas. Crucially, it also results in more diverse idea generation and cultivates a culture where employees want to submit ideas.

The ideation process serves to collect as many ideas as possible before the organization subsequently filters through them to determine which ones are worth pursuing. 


Ideation as part of the design thinking process

Knowing how to generate ideas is important. However, it is also important to understand how ideation fits into the context of design thinking - a human-centred approach to innovation that prioritizes empathy and problem-solving. 

Ideation is the third stage of design thinking process, following the phases of ‘empathize’ and ‘define’. The ideation phase is followed by the ‘prototype’ and ‘test’ phases. A brief outline of the design thinking process is as follows;

  • Empathize - gaining a deeper understanding of the intended client's needs.
  • Define - identifying the user’s needs and the problem that you plan to solve.
  • Ideation - generating ideas to propose potential solutions.
  • Prototype - creating potential products from the best ideas generated above.
  • Test - trying the solution to confirm feasibility and desirability.

While all five stages are important, the other processes are largely focused on following processes to identify an issue and test a potential solution. However, it is the ability to ideate that provides the creativity and foundation of innovation.


The ideation process

The ideation process isn’t solely about generating ideas linked to the issues identified in the first two phases of the design thinking process. It is equally important to ensure that ideas are within the company’s capabilities and actively aligned with its overall objectives, as well as client demands. 

During the ideation process, ideas may not be completely new. In fact, innovation often thrives on the combination and reimagining of existing concepts. This can involve building on existing ideas through incremental innovation, where small improvements are made to enhance functionality or efficiency. Alternatively, ideation can also focus on architectural innovation, which involves restructuring existing ideas in a novel way to create a new solution.

Moreover, the ideation process may also encourage the exploration of disruptive and radical innovation, where completely new and groundbreaking ideas are proposed. This type of innovation challenges the status quo and pushes boundaries, paving the way for revolutionary changes in products, services, or processes.


Ideation Techniques 

Ideation is about generating ideas from new perspectives. Before you can ideate effectively, though, you must learn how to write an innovation problem statement. It is a simple move that will provide a framework for all further idea generation processes.

Techniques used during the ideation phases include, but are not limited to;

  • Brainstorming,
  • Mind maps,
  • Storyboarding,
  • Sketch dumps,
  • Worst possible idea,
  • Brain dumping,
  • Challenge assumption,
  • 6-3-5 brainwriting

Ultimately, there should be no limits to the processes used as long as they encourage both bottom-up and top-down idea generation. At this stage, the key is to focus on gaining as many ideas as possible. Following this, the best ideas can quickly be filtered out from the rest while simultaneously ensuring that key learnings are taken from the undesired ideas.

Whichever ideation techniques you select, having a dedicated innovation operating system in place will guide your team to greatness. To discover the benefits of rready for idea generation and innovation as a whole, book a demo today.

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