Rarely a one-time process, ideation can instead be divided into stages, such as generation, selection and development. After you have identified the problem or opportunity, idea generation can kick start the process. This can then lead to a process of idea evaluation and selection, and eventually a stage of refinement and development. Bottlenecks can certainly plug up the process at every step of the way. To facilitate the communication of ideas is also key to an organization’s eventual testing and implementation of those specific ideas.
Great Ideas Lead to Innovation
Ideation is important to paving the road to innovation, and it has several benefits for an organization. According to Viima’s complete guide to ideation, sharpening your ideation initiatives can increase your innovation opportunities by generating more ideas. It can also bring together different perspectives and ways of thinking. “That’s why when we bring together diversity in terms of experiences and knowledge, we can look through a fresh lens and take advantage of new ways of thinking,” writes author Diana Porumboiu. Effective ideation processes can also further help develop and refine those ideas into better ones; helps you prioritize ideas and identify the most promising ones; and encourages an environment and culture of open innovation in a company or community.
There are several specific tactics that one can use for ideation generation as well. In addition to brainstorming, other strategies include developing an idea challenge. This is a focused ideation method for finding creative solutions to specific problems, opportunities, or areas of improvement. In terms of evaluation, the impact-effort matrix can help distinguish the types of ideas that will guide your choices in the process, as well as the evaluation criteria. Ideas can be placed in the matrix, and categorized as high impact high effort big projects, for example.
Idea management doesn’t stop there. Indeed, for innovation professionals the most recognized tool could be the phase-gate process, which helps select ideas and helps you reduce uncertainty. The stages include discovery, scoping, feasibility, development, validation and launch. This model also helps ensure consistency and reduce ideas with too many similarities. To refine and develop ideas further, storyboarding, analogy thinking, and opposite thinking are also tactics that can be leveraged during the ideation process.
Thoughts On Co-Creation
Do you want to co-create, or do you just want to ideate? All Things Innovation explored this question in the blog, “Take Ideation to the Next Level with Co-Creation,” by Lisa Fuchs, Executive Vice President, Innovation Services, KLC.
Often, we are asked about the differences in co-creation versus crowdsourcing and idea generation. To truly co-create is to build out ideas with customers from that seed of inspiration into a concept and ultimately a new product/service.
Co-creation is a way for you to incorporate your customer through all stages of the product development process, and through disruptive innovation create something that can truly be a game changer, as it’s made not only with the customer in mind, but with inspiration and input directly from them. Co-creation can be far more informative than traditional techniques for identifying what products to bring to market, and it yields deeper insights. When knowledgeable, passionate people are brought together, they can have robust and dynamic discussions. Those conversations often spiral into unexpected areas, and they can spark bold ideas that no one group member would have thought of alone.
Collaboration Is Key
Effective ideation can fuel innovation at an organization by providing employees with a platform to think creatively and come up with new ideas. This encourages out-of-the box thinking and helps identify potential opportunities for improvement or growth. It also strengthens collaboration between teams, as they share their ideas and work together to develop innovative solutions. We asked ChatGPT, what are some effective ideation steps that can help fuel innovation?
- Brainstorming: Gather a team of people together to brainstorm ideas, giving everyone the chance to share their thoughts and suggestions.
- Research and analysis: Take time to research existing products or services in the industry and analyze different approaches that have already been tried by other companies.
- Ideation sessions: Host ideation sessions with stakeholders from across the organization or with customers who can provide valuable insights into what they would like to see from your product or service offering.
- Collaborative workshops: Set up collaborative workshops where teams can work together on specific problems, research solutions, and generate new ideas for potential innovations that could address those issues.
- Prototyping and testing: Create prototypes of potential solutions quickly so you can test them out in real world scenarios and get feedback from users as soon as possible before committing too much resources into any one solution path.
Ideas are the starting point of every innovation. Yet ideation is often thought of as a messy and chaotic process, littered with post-it notes and diagrams on chalkboards during noisy group sessions. But through a specific ideation management process, it can help you stay organized and increase knowledge sharing. The process can also help you transparently share ideas, gather feedback, refine, evaluate, and further develop them, notes Viima. A structured and methodical approach can align ideation with specific goals.
“Even though ideation might sometimes get a bad reputation, the problem is usually not with ideation per se, but with the lack of systematic processes to get from vague ideas to implemented solutions that serve the organization’s overall goals.” Those ideas, after all, can pave the road to successful innovations.
Video courtesy of Board of Innovation