Ideation: Tools, Purpose & Methods


Ideation: Tools, Purpose & Methods

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IDEAS. A small word with Four letters. But creates a big impact on the world. Ideation is a creative process of generating ideas and opening the mind of great thinkers. The process of ideation has evolved over a period leading to the creation of Ideation tools.


Ideas are messed up in our minds, the nerves of inspiration are wired everywhere. Here and there, around everywhere in our brains. We all have nerves about an idea.


As ideating is not a one-man task, it’s more of a group activity. Now, Group means more people and that means MORE ideas. Thus, organizing the process of putting forward the idea is of utmost importance.


Ideation tools make the process organized to translate ideas in better form. The visuals & features of ideation tools bring clarity to the bumbled-up ideas. Thus, accelerating the further steps in the design thinking process. 


But why do we need ideation? In short-

What is the purpose of ideation?

Ideation is the third and important step in the process of design thinking. Design Thinking is not the kingdom of designers. It’s a systematic process to empathize with human problems and design the right solutions to them. 


Ideation is about challenging assumptions and exploring hidden territories. It helps to learn user problems and come up with new solutions. If ideation is carried out correctly, you never know which idea becomes the next innovatory solution. 


It’s about going beyond the norm ideas and solutions. It’s to explore new perspectives, diversifying ideas to innovate in a never before seen, and novel way.  


Ideation in Business

So Someone got the idea of renting homes and properties to ease out the traveling experience of avid travelers. 


Ain’t that Airbnb?


Ideation is an integral part of the business. Building a successful business is a continuous and never-ending process. Entrepreneurs scratch their heads to get that ‘EUREKA’ moment.


They continuously want to improve their product that satisfies their customer needs and withstand the competition. 


Building a business strategy is about going through an ideation process. In business Ideation, external factors are more important than internal factors. That is- Feedback from your Customers. 


Every Business’s main aim should be to create a customer-centric product. Thus, observing your customers, understanding what they want, what more they want from your product, how are their experiences with your product, etc.


With this, you can bring ideas to solve the problems of customers and can deliver a better customer experience. 


Run a successful Ideation Session

An ideation session aims to generate numerous ideas to filter out and reach the best practical and innovative idea. It will bring forward the strengths and weaknesses of your team members.


To drive the team beyond the obvious solutions and to have a great session, here are a few steps:


  • Before starting, let your team members get familiar with the ground rules: 


  1. Have a time-bound session. The ideal time should be 15-25minutes. Have a standup ideation session as standing posture pumps up the energy level. 
  2. Have lots of post-it notes. Let them post the idea on one post-it note. Encourage them to draw the ideas, to make them more visual. 


  • It’s easy to get off track during a group session. So always keep the main goal of the session in front of the eyes. 


  • An ideation session should be free on the quantity box. The more the ideas come out, the better it is. Asking participants to give out only ‘quality ‘ ideas will limit the process. Thus, cut off the limits and free them to give out as many ideas as they want. 


  • Keep all judgments and analyses away. This will encourage participants to think of creative and wild ideas. Thus fostering out-of-the-box ideas and solutions. 


  • The next step is to let each team member vote for their top ideas. Ask them to vote for an idea that is relevant to address the problem and easy to understand. 


The Four Ideal Methods of Ideation:

A good ideation session requires good techniques. There are numerous techniques to generate new ideas. The chosen technique should be suitable for every team member.


It should be convenient according to their creativity, productivity, and experience in each technique. 


These are the four commonly used and effective techniques of Ideation:

Methods of Ideation

  • Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a combined method of solving the problem. It encourages putting up or storming up ideas randomly. It lets the team freely let out their thinking process. 


Also, it gives out a bunch of new ideas for which can be crafted into an original actionable idea. It lets the team feel free to let out their thinking process.  


  • Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a visual representation of ideas. It is a form of creating connections between ideas by building relationship webs. The participants have a central focus on the problem.


The problem has numerous roots of ideas or topics that are connected to another solution or idea. 


  • Sketch Storm

Sketch Storm is putting out ideas and solutions in the form of diagrams and sketches. Not just words. It lets participants sketch out ideas in the form of various shapes which suit the idea formation. 


The sketching of an idea can be very simple & rough but detailed enough to convey the intention.


  • Story Board

Storyboarding encourages participants to create a story revolving around the problems. It emphasizes creating visual stories with main characters as design, dynamics of problems, a direction towards a solution, etc. 


Best Ideation tools:

  • Design Kit

Best Ideation tools


Designkit is an amazing tool provided by IDEO. The kit offers a powerful method based on human-centered design.


The method is divided into three sections: Inspiration, Ideation & Implementation. Each section has various activities for ideating & product designing. 


Under inspiration, it has tools to kick-off your start, conduct interviews & understand people to source the inspiration.


Under Ideation, it has interactive activities to build ideas, to find solutions,  to build a prototype from ideas, creating a building model canvas, etc.


Similarly, for implementation, it has included key activities to launch asses, and scale the product. 


Each activity of the sections has a Step-by-Step Guide, difficulty level of activity, period of completion, materials needed & Ideal participants. It’s an all in one & easy to use online tool to start the process from ideation to launch.


  • Mockplus




Mockplus is an all-in-one design platform for fast and easy design. It focuses on rapid prototyping, effective collaboration, and scalable design systems. While emphasizing a collection of user feedback & continuous iteration. 


Its rapid prototyping tool facilitates software feasibility, usability testing, prototype preview, cloud synchronization & sharing, team collaboration, and much more. 


  • Session Lab

Session Lab


SessionLab is a wholesome library for Ideation generation & Innovation techniques.  It has been new or never heard before ideation techniques. Each activity mentions the goal that will be fulfilled.


Materials required to conduct the activity & clear in-depth instructions. It also lets new users the source and derivation of the particular ideation activity. 


To ease out the process & save time it has a feature to require search methods and exercises. One can customize the search by filtering out the number of participants and mentioning tags. 


Apart from ideation generation, it offers techniques for problem-solving, decision making, leadership activities, and many more. 


  • Smaply



Smaply is a journey mapping tool. It let users create and share customer journey maps, personas stakeholder maps, etc. It’s a great tool to map out your customer experience. Thus, helping in discovering customer pain points and needs. 


It helps to dig deeper into customer’s expectations and requirements. It encourages us to understand how stakeholders form connections with each other that influence your services. 


  • Open Innovation ToolKit 

Open Innovation ToolKit


Mozilla offers this great free tool Open Innovation toolkit. It’s a community-sourced set of methods to support & build better ideas and products.


Their Method is divided into three principal categories: Gather Insights, Ideate, Prototype & test. It has filters for difficulty level- Low, Medium & Hard, and Time- 1 to 5 days, 5 to 10 days, 10+ days.


It also lets the user filter out the activity based on the outcomes they want to achieve. 


Each Activity is further divided into detailed steps with purpose, outcomes number of participants, required materials, and resources. 


Do you want to validate an idea? It has the solution method. Or Do you want to prioritize your activities? The toolkit has it all. 


  • Shape



The shape is the newest software by design thinking influencers- IDEO. It’s a collaboration tool to build, test, and tune your ideas. 


It bills itself as a collaborative tool for tackling tough challenges by administering customer-centered & creative problem-solving methods. 


It offers proven methods and templates for problem-solving. One can create their customized workspace based on organizational needs & challenges. 


  • Board Of Innovation

Board Of Innovation

The Board of innovation is a firm of business design & innovation strategy. It has free tools for ideation, a problem discovery pitching checklist, and an evaluation sheet. It also has a tool to foster an innovative culture in the organization. 


So, it also has free guides and tools for strategy leaders, corporate innovators, and HR leaders. 


One of our favorite tools is Problem sizing canvas under problem discovery. It lets a user download their in-depth guide in the pdf version. 


Tips to Improve your Ideation:

Ideation is difficult. The constant need to put out ideas to improve the process can be an exhaustive task. It can also lead to an idea block if one problem is focused for too long.


It’s always better to take a power break. One can also take up another problem solving to stimulate the thought flow.


This will give a break to the thinking process. Thus subconsciously giving the participants time to come up with other new ideas.


Have short-term breaks thus making the participants go off-topic and will light up the mood for the second round of session. 


To keep the motivation, appreciate them for every idea to put. Let them know that their ideas are good. This encourages them to increase their level of participation and contribute more. 


Always save all the ideas generated by your team. Keep note of them. You never know which idea leads you to success. 


Take Away:

There are plenty of online ideation tools and techniques. But no matter which tool you use, the final responsibility is on the heads of the team to generate new ideas.


Ideation tools are the medium to organize the process and make the decision process more effective. 


Ideation is a form of art. Thus it will be more beneficial to have an experienced facilitator who will guide the team in the right direction. Keep alternating the techniques and emphasis on having a lively environment for sessions.


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