Ideation Techniques: Nurturing Creativity and Innovation

A key step to innovation lies in generating creative ideas. What does it take to make this as effective as possible so everyone benefits?

Many organizations find it challenging to bring ideas to life, a process known as ideation. However, there are several methods to help make this concept a reality. One school of thought views generating creative ideas as a free-flowing practice with no filters.

In business, we often get used to following strict methods instead of thinking creatively. This is why it is beneficial to learn best practices and techniques for generating more creative ideas.

Brainstorming Techniques

Brainstorming is an essential practice for any organization, which involves coming up with as many ideas as possible. A number of key brainstorming techniques can help to generate more creative ideas and spearhead innovation:

1. Question brainstorming

Here participants come up with as many questions about a problem as possible without trying to answer them. This can help to understand the problem before generating solutions.

2. Hybrid brainstorming

This technique combines group brainstorming and individual brainstorming sessions where people first brainstorm ideas by themselves and then share and discuss them as a group, which can give them more inspiration and give the idea legs.

3. Mind mapping

Mind mapping is one of the most commonly used techniques to get your creative juices flowing. It starts with a central topic or question. Then, it expands with branches and nodes. This helps to explore related ideas and connections.

4. Starbursting

This technique involves asking a series of questions using the 5Ws and one H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How) approach to explore different aspects of a topic.

5. Brainwriting

This is an approach whereby participants write down ideas on paper and then pass them to someone else to build upon, which can snowball more creative and diverse ideas.


The Concept of Open Innovation and External Idea Sourcing

Open innovation is when businesses and organizations get ideas, knowledge, and expertise from sources outside their own. Open innovation can benefit organizations in many ways:

  • Reducing the costs and, more importantly, risks of research and development by sharing them with external partners.
  • Resulting in a greater number and better quality of ideas as the organization is leveraging a wider network to source ideas.
  • Improve learning and adaptation because it exposes the organization to different perspectives. 

To successfully implement this, it is vital for organizations to:

  • Clearly define a vision and identify gaps or opportunities.
  • Select the appropriate open innovation approaches, for example, crowdsourcing or co-creation.
  • Design processes and practices to facilitate the sharing and sourcing of knowledge and ideas.
  • Measure and assess outcomes to guarantee continuous improvement.

How Do You Create a Culture of Innovation?

Generating ideas should be a free-flowing and creative practice. However, many organizations find themselves cultivating a fear of failure amongst their employees. This can often originate from the top-management and can be rooted in wanting to come up with the best possible idea from the very outset.

Creating a culture of innovation within an organization is important, to ensure that employees stay innovative and engage in creative problem-solving on the job. To do so, organizations can implement some of the following practices:

  • Create a culture of psychological safety by defining a clear philosophy that empowers idea sharing without fear of failure. Encourage risk-taking and view failure as a natural part of innovation, fostering an environment where employees feel free to experiment and take creative risks.
  • Empower and incentivize employees by giving them the autonomy and freedom to drive their own thinking.
  • Lead by example, where managers and leaders should model open curiosity and a willingness to learn from failures.
  • Companies can improve their culture of innovation by using gamification. This includes game-like elements and mechanics, which can motivate employees to participate actively, collaborate creatively, and generate new ideas.

Innovation does not mean you have to come up with a complete solution from the start. Rather, it is important to recognize that innovation is about a number of key steps which all begin with generating a creative idea no matter how safe or how daring it might seem.

To help your employees along in generating creative ideas, the right tools need to be in place. rready has helped many companies to enable their employees to become innovators through the flagship KICKBOX program. Contact us to arrange a full demo.

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