Ideas, ideas and more ideas

After empathising with users and defining the problem for our Design Thinking project, the next step was to start finding possible ways of solving the problem! This is called the ‘ideation’ phase. Ideas can be generated through means such as brainstorming, brainwriting, mindmaps, storyboards, challenging assumptions, sketching or many other methods.

Brainstorming ideas

Brainstorming can be an excellent way to generate a large quantity of ideas in a short time. The best brainstorms involve a variety of people (including end users), and are facilitated in a way that enables creative thinking and open communication. The aim of brainstorming is to go for quantity – encourage wild ideas, build on others’ ideas, defer judgement and crank out lots of ideas quickly.

We held a three quick-fire 5 minute brainstorm sessions for each problem/persona, and constraints were added in each session to encourage a range of ideas. These constraints were: ideas that would cost over $1 million to implement, ideas that would displease the boss, and ideas that were based on magic or fantasy. Below is the output from the brainstorm I facilitated with two classmates. It was lots of fun, and we produced a wide variety of ideas, from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Selecting ideas

As a result of the ideation phase, we had a mass of ideas. Some crazy, some simple, some unclear, some impossible, some innovative. How do we decide which ones to take forward? Can we turn silly ideas into sensible ones, or impossible ideas into realities? Which ideas could be well on the way to addressing the defined problem?

We reviewed the ideas, looking for ways of converting them into implementable ideas, or combining aspects of different ideas into one. One way to decide which ideas to develop further is to apply selection criteria, such as:

  • Quick: an idea that could have an impact and be implemented quickly
  • Breakthrough: an innovative idea that would be a real breakthrough (although it may be difficult to implement)
  • Delight: an idea that will truly delight the target user/persona

Another important consideration is whether the ideas will help solve the problem – how relevant the ideas are to the stated PoV. One way to cross-check this is to hypothesise the result if the idea was implemented, and look at any assumptions that affect this. For example, if the idea was a wallet with a thumbprint lock, the hypothesis might be that the wallet is more secure if lost/stolen, and the assumption is a user would be able/happy to use a thumbprint lock.

Of the ideas generated, I have chosen a couple to take forward to the prototyping stage. I’ll cover that in the next blog post: prototyping and testing concepts.

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