Ideation – Uncovering The Meaning And Process

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What is Ideation?

Ideation is the creative process from which ideas are generated, developed and communicated, all the way to being implemented. Through techniques like brainstorming, mind mapping, and SCAMPER, participants explore various possibilities and connections to solve challenges and gain new insights.

Ideation is a dynamic space where creativity and innovation thrive. It’s a collaborative environment that welcomes diverse perspectives and encourages open innovation and co-creation. Working together as a team, participants build on each other’s ideas, combining different elements to create comprehensive and inventive solutions. Prototyping and testing ensure that the most promising ideas are refined and prepared for real-world implementation. Innovation management platforms help streamline the process, keeping everything organized for seamless execution.

Throughout the journey, resilience and a growth mindset are embraced. Successes are celebrated, and any setbacks are seen as opportunities for learning and improvement in future ideation sessions.

In this stimulating world of ideation, the seeds of progress are sown, propelling individuals and organizations towards brighter and more impactful futures. It’s a process that fosters continuous improvement, driving innovation and positive change in various fields.



The Ideation process

Ideation is not one action, but a whole process from generation to implementation. To achieve successful ideation, each step is important and will be explained here:


1. Identify the problem or opportunity

Clearly define the challenge you want to address or the opportunity you want to explore.


2. Brainstorming

Generate as many ideas as possible. Encouraging a free flow of creativity without judgment allows the participants to submit their craziest ideas which often is where the most genius innovations occur. This innovation quote by Einstein supports this view:

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.“


3. Develop and refine ideas

Work on the selected ideas, flesh them out, and refine them together to make them more feasible and effective.


4. Categorize and prioritize

Organize and group the ideas, then prioritize the most promising ones based on relevance and potential impact.


5. Implementation and follow-up

Put the chosen idea(s) into action, and regularly review and evaluate the results.

By focusing on these core steps, you can effectively harness the power of ideation.



Why is Ideation important?


Ideation is a powerful process with numerous benefits. It brings diverse perspectives together, fueling innovation. It fosters creativity, enabling unconventional ideas to emerge. Effective problem-solving is enhanced through the generation and evaluation of multiple solutions. Ideation allows for continuous improvement and empowers employees, fostering a positive work culture. Overall, it drives positive change and growth within organizations and society. Here are 5 important benefits of ideation explained more in depth:


1. Diverse perspectives

Ideation encourages the participation of diverse individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and expertise. This diversity brings a wide range of perspectives to the table, leading to more innovative and comprehensive solutions. When people with different viewpoints collaborate, they can challenge each other’s assumptions and generate ideas that might not have been possible in a homogeneous group.


2. Creativity and innovation

Ideation is the breeding ground for creativity and innovation. It allows people to think outside the box, explore unconventional ideas, and break free from traditional thought patterns. The process encourages brainstorming and encourages wild ideas without judgment, which can lead to groundbreaking concepts and solutions.


3. Problem-solving effectiveness

Effective ideation helps in identifying and defining problems more accurately. Through the generation of multiple ideas and potential solutions, it becomes easier to analyze and evaluate various options. This enhances the overall problem-solving process and increases the likelihood of finding the most suitable and effective solution.


4. Continuous improvement

Ideation is not limited to one-time brainstorming sessions. It can be an ongoing process, allowing for continuous improvement and adaptation to changing circumstances. By regularly generating new ideas and revisiting existing ones, organizations can stay competitive and respond to evolving challenges effectively.


5. Employee engagement and empowerment

In a collaborative ideation environment, employees feel engaged and empowered. Their voices are heard, and they can contribute to the organization’s growth and development. This sense of ownership fosters a positive work culture and can lead to increased job satisfaction, motivation, and retention.

Overall, ideation is a powerful tool that drives creativity, problem-solving, and innovation, while also promoting teamwork and employee engagement. It plays a vital role in driving positive change and growth within organizations.



How to succeed with Ideation

We now know that there are many benefits to conducting ideation processes. However, the results do not come on their own. Here are some tips on how to succeed with ideation:


Foster a judgment-free and diverse environment

Create an inclusive atmosphere where all participants feel comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of criticism. Encourage the involvement of individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Embracing diversity enhances the range of ideas and solutions, leading to more innovative outcomes.


Set clear goals and constraints

Clearly define the problem or opportunity you want to address. Setting specific goals and constraints can channel creativity towards finding practical and relevant solutions.


Use creative thinking techniques

Employ various brainstorming techniques such as mind mapping, reverse thinking, brainwriting or forced relationship. These techniques can help stimulate creative thinking and generate fresh ideas.


Encourage collaboration and teamwork

Create an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork. Encourage participants to build on each other’s ideas and work together to develop and refine solutions.


Combine and recombine ideas

Look for ways to combine different ideas to create new and innovative solutions. Sometimes, the merging of seemingly unrelated concepts can lead to breakthroughs.


Prototype and test

For practical ideas, consider creating prototypes or mock-ups to test their feasibility and gather feedback. Iterative testing can help refine and improve the concepts.


Document and organize ideas

Keep track of all generated ideas, even those not immediately selected. Documenting ideas allows you to revisit them later or use them as inspiration for future projects.


Iterate, celebrate success, and learn from failures

Understand that ideation is an iterative process, and it may require multiple sessions to refine and develop ideas further. Celebrate successful ideas and implementations, acknowledging the accomplishments of the team. Simultaneously, view failures as valuable learning opportunities to understand what didn’t work and why. Use the insights gained from both successes and failures to improve future ideation sessions and enhance the quality of generated ideas.


Use an ideation tool

Consider employing specialized software or tools to streamline and enhance the ideation process for increased efficiency and effectiveness.

Using traditional ways of ideation do not cut it in today’s world of mass information. In order to stay structured and handle the process when dealing with large amounts of data, a platform for ideation is crucial.

Vocean is a platform created for just this purpose. It has been formed from the ground up to create innovative processes and involve many people. Read more about how to use Vocean here.



Challenges of Ideation

While it is clear that ideation brings many benefits, there are some challenges to be aware of when conducting ideation processes. We put together a list of 5 important challenges and some tips on how to overcome them:


1. Idea evaluation and selection

Evaluating and selecting the most promising ideas from a vast pool of options is critical but challenging. It requires careful analysis and consideration of factors like feasibility, impact, and alignment with the problem.

Here, it is very useful to make use of collective intelligence. Using an open innovation platform like Vocean, it is possible to rate ideas on scales, for example how big of an impact the idea could have. These ratings can be done by the team together and the individuals can also vote on their favorite ideas, making it easy to see which suggestions are most popular according to the group.


2. Overcoming cognitive biases and fear of judgment

Participants may be influenced by cognitive biases, leading to self-censorship and hesitancy in sharing unconventional ideas. Overcoming these biases and creating a safe, non-judgmental environment is essential for effective ideation. An ideation technique like brainwriting can also be used to let people share their ideas anonymously, thereby putting the idea in focus instead of the person.


3. Generating truly novel ideas

Finding genuinely original and groundbreaking ideas can be difficult, particularly when dealing with complex or well-explored problems. Striking a balance between familiarity and novelty is crucial. By coming up with large amounts of ideas, the chance of finding that one groundbreaking idea increases. A prerequisite for this is that the organization has the capacity to handle large quantities of ideas, which can be done using an innovation platform.


4. Implementation challenges and alignment with organizational goals

Turning ideas into reality can be a complex process. Identifying resources, managing constraints, and ensuring alignment with organizational goals are crucial for successful implementation. It is important to always have the organization’s goals in mind when creating ideation processes. Creating actionable reports based on the results of the processes is also a way for the decision makers to easily act on the ideas.


5. Managing the process

Properly capturing, documenting, and organizing the multitude of ideas can also pose a challenge. Here, an ideation platform is a must if the process contains a large amount of data.

Addressing these challenges requires effective facilitation, open communication, and a commitment to fostering a creative and supportive environment. Overcoming these obstacles can lead to innovative and valuable solutions that drive positive change and growth within organizations and projects.



Ideation tools and techniques


1. Brainstorming

This is perhaps the most commonly thought about technique when it comes to idea generation. Brainstorming is the act of coming up with as many ideas as possible. Here, no idea gets discriminated against. Every idea is accepted, encouraging everyone to publish their most radical and unusual ideas.

Brainstorming is typically done in a group where everyone comes with their input. After every idea is sent in, they are categorized and voted on in order to make sense of them.

Because a group of people all have different ideas, a lot will be submitted. Therefore, it is typically considered quite resource heavy in order to record them all. Another common con of brainstorming is the imbalance in who submits the ideas. Some people are naturally more forward and others more shy. Status can also come into play. It is therefore important to have a system in place in which a lot of people can send in their ideas free of judgement.


2. Reverse thinking

Reverse thinking, or reverse brainstorming as some like to call it, is a way to look at a problem from a different angle. Instead of only thinking about solutions, it takes a more problem-based approach.

For example, if you’re trying to build a fanbase on social media, instead of thinking about how to gain that following, think about what would make someone NOT follow you. Not posting regularly, too many brand deals that , low quality content etc.

People tend to find it more fun to find opposite solutions. You could thus create more engagement by thinking about how to not solve the problem! Companies also have a tendency to get stuck up in their ideas, making them blind to things otherwise very obvious. Reverse thinking can make the ideas that should be obvious, obvious.

After coming up with the negative solutions, they are reversed again…

Moving back to our previous example about how to lose all your followers. The solution now becomes to post regularly, only do a small amount of brand deals and post great content.



SCAMPER is a technique used to generate ideas, building from existing products or services by asking questions.

It’s is an acronym standing for:

S – Substitute

C – Combine

A – Adapt

M – Modify

P – Put another use case

E – Eliminate

R – Reverse

These action verbs are used to formulate topics of discussion, most commonly in the form of asking questions. For example, “substitute” can be made into the questions:

“Could you use this product as a substitute for something?”

Or “What resources can you substitute to improve this product?”

And the same can be done with each of these verbs.

One thing missing from this model is the cost aspect. However, this is something that is always considered so it can be viewed as the invisible extra C.




4. Forced relationship

This technique is used by combining two different ideas that usually aren’t combined. Forcing these things together requires thinking outside the box and can shift the perspective of the innovators.

Combining unrelated ideas does not always make sense but if the attempt generates a useful insight, it can be classified as a success.

An example of something where a relationship used to look unlikely is the mobile phone camera. Years ago, it was unthinkable to use the phone for something else than calling. Today, most people do not even own a standalone camera but still take photos every day on their phone.


5. The 5 W’s

The 5 W’s is short for a set of questions to ask. By asking these, you will gain a clear picture of the problem at hand. The five different types of questions can be applied in different ways, depending on the task at hand. For example, the questions can both be used for understanding a problem, or to refine a potential solution.

The 5 W’s are:






Another variant of this one is the 5 “whys”. This one is used to gain a deeper understanding of a problem.

By repeatedly asking why, you go from a shallow understanding, down into the roots of the problem.


6. Mind mapping

Mind mapping is a powerful visual technique used for organizing thoughts and ideas in a non-linear way. It involves creating a central concept or topic and branching out into related ideas, concepts, or subtopics.

This technique allows for better understanding of the connections between different elements and helps stimulate creativity by exploring various associations. The use of colors, images, and keywords further enhances the effectiveness of mind mapping in capturing and structuring ideas.

Mind map


7. Brainwriting

Brainwriting is a collaborative idea generation method that builds on the principles of brainstorming but with a written approach. Instead of verbalizing ideas, participants write down their thoughts on a given topic or problem on paper or by using a digital platform.

These written ideas are then passed on to other team members who continue to build upon them. This process encourages co-creation and simultaneous idea generation from multiple team members and reduces the influence of dominant personalities. This makes for a more diverse and inclusive process.


8. Storyboarding

Storyboarding is a creative technique commonly used in visual storytelling, such as film-making, advertising, and user experience design. It involves creating a sequence of visual sketches or illustrations arranged in a chronological order, like a comic strip, to depict the flow of a narrative or the development of an idea.

Storyboarding allows creators to visualize their concepts, identify potential gaps or inconsistencies, and refine their ideas before executing the final product.


9. Six thinking hats

The Six Thinking Hats technique is a structured approach to decision-making and idea generation. It involves using six metaphorical “thinking hats,” each representing a different perspective or thinking style, to approach a problem or explore a topic. The hats are assigned colors, and participants metaphorically “wear” each hat to adopt the corresponding thinking mode. These modes include:

White Hat (Neutral and Objective): Focuses on facts, data, and information available.

Red Hat (Emotional and Intuitive): Considers emotions, feelings, and gut reactions.

Black Hat (Critical and Cautious): Identifies potential problems and risks.

Yellow Hat (Positive and Optimistic): Examines benefits and values.

Green Hat (Creative and Innovative): Encourages creative thinking and new ideas.

Blue Hat (Meta-cognitive and Control): Manages the thinking process and sets the agenda.

By wearing these “hats” sequentially or selectively, individuals or teams can thoroughly explore a problem or idea from different angles, leading to more comprehensive and balanced solutions.



Ideation is a dynamic and powerful process that fuels creativity and innovation, leading individuals and organizations towards brighter and more impactful futures. Through various ideation techniques, participants can explore numerous possibilities and connections to solve challenges and gain new insights. This collaborative environment welcomes diverse perspectives, encourages open sharing of ideas, and fosters continuous improvement. With the right tools, techniques, and mindset, the seeds of progress are sown, leading to a world of continuous innovation and positive change.

Throughout the text, it is clear how a important a powerful platform for ideation is to achieve success. Vocean allows you to effectively involve people in ideation processes and makes it easy to handle large amounts of ideas, meaning it helps you find the groundbreaking innovations.

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