When it comes to ideation, most of us believe that great ideas come from great inspiration.
Over the past several months, we’ve addressed a few common challenges with making ideation workshops “better.” Better ideation workshops generate a higher number of quality ideas that are likely to make it to market. We’ve already addressed making ideas “bigger” by expanding the definition of an “idea,” and pacing ideation more iteratively throughout the year rather than focusing solely on big events. In this post, we’re tackling the challenge around how best to inspire ideation.
We often see two common approaches to inspiration. Both are problematic. Do either of these sound familiar?
1. The 1.5 hour R&D/technology presentation deck. Knowing the technology available for product innovation is certainly important. But, while lengthy, overly-scientific explanations are often interesting (but probably old news) to R&D folks, they are difficult to keep up with for non-scientists. Essentially, these presentations are information, rather than inspiration. The result is typically dis-engagement and fatigue, rather than new ideas.
2. The ethereal trend video. Too many of us have sat in ideation workshops watching a video of ballet dancers in Italy and wondered, “What does this have to do with the problem we are trying to solve?” This might be a little extreme, but you catch our drift. This type of inspiration often degrades the credibility of the workshop since participants don’t see the connection to the business or customer need.
So, how can inspiration truly lead to unique, actionable and breakthrough ideas? Here are a few tips based on our experience:
Leverage pre-reading. Generally speaking, we try to send ahead functional information that the business already has access to — this might include previous market research results, R&D technology pipeline or existing initiative plans. So, what’s shared as inspiration in the ideation session is truly new news for all participants.
Keep it moving. Share inspiration in 20 minute bursts. We’ve found that 20 minutes enables sufficient depth, without causing fatigue or dis-engagement. Several smaller bursts of inspiration, with adequate time for idea generation, allows a breadth of different types of inspiration that can inspire new ideas from participants with varied learning styles and ideation experience.
Build in diversity. Make sure that you draw inspiration from a variety of sources and leverage multiple formats. Leverage multiple sources like social media, technological advancements, patent searches and industry reports. Bring inspiration to life using multiple formats — consider live or recorded interviews, case studies and/or videos in addition to powerpoint decks. Individual participants will spark to different types and formats of inspiration, so including a diversity of sources ensures that every participant will be engaged.
Push the boundaries with analogs. To push participants out further, leverage analogs, examples of successful ways other people have solved similar business or customer challenges.
Translate. Focused ideas come from inspiration that participants can connect and apply to the customer or business challenge that they are ideating against. Equip participants with note taking tools and templates that help them capture key insights from each piece of inspiration that they then can use to assemble new ideas. Include specific prompts as needed to help participants listen effectively.
Consider leveraging these five tips to ensure that inspiration leads to brilliant ideas.
The Garage Group enables corporate teams to generate big ideas via multi-functional ideation workshops that leverage analogs, rapid iteration and shark-tank like pitches to develop robust new marketing, product and service ideas.