3 ways to boost idea generation

Updated: Feb 8

Innovative concepts are the new currency of success


Brainwriting is one of the most effective ways to build on the ideas of others.

Visionary concepts and innovative ideas are perceived not only as building blocks of creativity, as the driving force of the innovation process, but also as the new currency of success. Companies across the globe invest tens of trillions of dollars in intellectual capital derived from the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating ideas that have the potential to go viral. However, because of our inability to manage abstract entities such as ideas, over 90 percent of them are not being used and the global economy loses valuable assets. So how can we generate ideas that are more adequate? How can we recalibrate them in order to skyrocket the success of every business?


Nothing happens in a vacuum


In organizations, you ideate in order to leverage innovation, to transition from identifying problems to exploring solutions, which will best suit the needs of your users and will help you stand out from the crowd. Nobody can spot a hot idea in a cold office, says Sam Harrison, author of “Idea spotting – How to find your next best idea”. In order to come up with a great idea, you need to look beyond the obvious and obligatory, to explore new options and play with associations. Nothing happens in a vacuum, least of all creativity and ideas, adds Sir John Hegarty, founding creative partner of “Bartle Bogle Hegarty” advertising agency.


An idea is complementary to another idea


There is something uplifting in thinking that an idea of yours could be so powerful that it might even change the course of history. Nevertheless, there is something essential that we often forget – “ideas borrow, blend, subvert, develop, and bounce off other ideas”. Moreover, Hegarty believes that stealing someone’s idea is wrong, but thinking that your idea is original is not right either. Your idea only exists in relation to another idea. “We all stand on each other’s shoulders and in doing so, hopefully, we see further”, he concludes in his book “Hegarty on creativity – There are no rules”.


Don't judge. Even the wildest ideas should be considered.

How to boost ideation in order to succeed


There are several effective ways to boost the idea generation process, to step beyond the obvious solutions and uncover unexpected areas of exploration. Here are 3 methods that can help you in your creative process:


“How might we”


This approach for generating ideas is great for solving design challenges. If you have already identified problem areas that pose challenges to the people you are designing a new product or a service for, you can look at the insight statements you have developed. You can transform them into questions by adding “How might we” at the beginning. This format suggests that it is possible to find a solution and it offers you the chance to answer those questions in a variety of ways.


You need to make sure that those kinds of questions are not too broad. A properly framed

“How Might We” session does not suggest a particular solution, but gives you the perfect frame for innovative thinking. It should be able to give you a narrow frame to let you know where to start your Brainstorm, but it will also give you a room to explore inspiring ideas.


“Yes, And! Brainstorm


Brainstorming can be used throughout the design thinking process in order to come up with solutions. Ordinary brainstorming may sometimes seem hectic and irrational, but the “Yes, And! Brainstorm” approach provides structure and enables each team member to contribute and build on others’ ideas.


You can write a game-changing idea on a whiteboard and give a couple of minutes to the team members to write down one novel approach in order to implement the idea. They should share their ideas and place them on the board. Then lead the team through a series of “Yes, And!” brainstorms for each idea. Make sure every team member builds on the idea before moving on to the next one. If you come up with other ideas during that process, feel free to capture them too.


Impose Constraints


Despite the negative connotation of the word and the notion that constraints take your freedom away, they are the fundamentals of design thinking. Intentionally imposing constraints increase creative potential. You should also have in mind that imposing restrictions during idea generation is different from rejecting ideas due to preconceived notions about users.


Design rules and constraints can help you focus on what is important for your project or for your particular brand. Restrictions can help you make other decisions faster and spend more time on parts of the design that needs a little bit more work than others need. You can even constrain materials to build quicker or constrain time to force output.

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