Idea Generation


A great way to generate ideas in a group is to work as quickly as you can, calling out ideas and writing them on Post-it notes. As the number of notes grows, they can be rearranged into like groups, but don’t worry about this at first. The most important thing is to get ideas out and riff off of each other. Don’t self edit—all ideas are valid. You can pare things down later.

Here are some suggestions for how to work based on concepts from IDEO.

1. Defer judgment

Creative spaces don't judge. They let the ideas flow, so that people can build on each other and foster great ideas. You never know where a good idea is going to come from, the key is make everyone feel like they can say the idea on their mind and allow others to build on it. This still means we pose questions and provocations so that the ideas can get to a better place.

2. Encourage wild ideas

Wild ideas can often give rise to creative leaps. In thinking about ideas that are wacky or out there we tend to think about what we really want without the constraints of technology or materials. We can then take those magical possibilities and perhaps invent new technologies to deliver them. Embrace the most out-of-the-box notions and build build build...

3. Build on the ideas of others

Being positive and building on the ideas of others take some skill. In conversation, we try to use “and” instead of but...

4. Stay focused on the topic

We try to keep the discussion on target, otherwise you can diverge beyond the scope of what we're trying to design for.

5. Be visual

In live brainstorms we use colored markers to write on Post-its that are put on a wall. Nothing gets an idea across faster than drawing it. Doesn’t matter how terrible of a sketcher you are! It's all about the idea behind your sketch. We love visual ideas as the images make them memorable. Does someone else’s idea excite you? Maybe make them an image to go with their idea.

7. Go for quantity

Aim for as many new ideas as possible. In a good session, up to 100 ideas are generated in 60 minutes. Crank the ideas out quickly.

8. Sort and edit last.

Don’t worry about what goes together at first. If people are riffing on one idea and there a group of ideas that are generated together, sure, stick them near each other, but don’t belabor the process.  If people get stuck just on riffing on one idea, consciously break that up and move on—you can come back later.