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  • Olga Wolska-Płonka

From Inspiration to Innovation: Methods for Generating Ideas




Today we will explore how brainstorming workshops serve as a platform for generating transformative ideas. It highlights their effectiveness in creating new concepts, solving complex problems, fostering collaboration, and adopting a user-centric approach. The article provides tips for organizing successful workshops and presents various frameworks, such as the 6-3-5 method and reverse brainstorming, to facilitate idea generation. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of selecting the right technique to achieve innovative solutions.



Brainstorming workshop as a platform for generating game-changing ideas


When faced with challenging tasks, generating new concepts, or promoting collaboration, that kind of workshop can be an invaluable resource. These group sessions offer a secure and encouraging space (as per Nielsen Norman Group, it is essential not to evaluate ideas at this stage) for participants to express their viewpoints, experiences, and ideas, resulting in innovative solutions that may not have been attainable through individual efforts.



Creating new ideas


Brainstorming workshops can help UX designers generate new and creative ideas for improving the user experience of a product or service. These group sessions offer a secure and encouraging space (as per Nielsen Norman Group, it is essential not to evaluate ideas at this stage) for participants to express their viewpoints, experiences, and ideas, resulting in innovative solutions that may not have been attainable through individual efforts.



Solving complex problems


It’s an effective way to solve complex problems requiring multiple stakeholders’ input. Brainstorming workshops can help break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. By approaching the problem collaboratively, participants can analyse and address each element in a structured manner, leading to more effective solutions.



Fostering collaboration


They also can help foster collaboration and teamwork among designers, developers, and other stakeholders. By working together to generate ideas, participants can develop a shared understanding of the problem and a sense of ownership over the solution.



User-centric approach


Last but not least, brainstorming workshops can help ensure that the user's needs and goals are at the centre of the design process. The UX designer can create solutions tailored to their needs and preferences by involving users in the workshop or considering their perspectives.






Tips on how to prepare and conduct a workshop


Following Interaction Design Foundation, to conduct a successful brainstorming workshop, remember about rules below:


  1. Define the problem: Clearly define the problem or challenge the brainstorming workshop will address. This will help guide the discussion and ensure the ideas generated are relevant to the problem.

  2. Assemble a diverse group of participants: Invite a diverse group of individuals from different backgrounds and areas of expertise. This will help bring different perspectives and experiences to the table, leading to a more creative and comprehensive set of ideas.

  3. Set clear objectives and ground rules: Establish clear objectives and ground rules for the brainstorming workshop. This should include guidelines on how to generate ideas, such as encouraging free thinking and suspending judgment.

  4. Provide a structured process: Provide a structured process for the brainstorming session, including time limits and rounds of idea generation. This will help keep the discussion focused and productive.

  5. Encourage participation: Encourage participation from all participants and ensure everyone has an opportunity to share their ideas. Avoid dominant individuals or ideas from derailing the discussion.

  6. Build on ideas: Encourage participants to build on each other's ideas rather than critiquing or dismissing them. This will help generate more innovative and collaborative solutions.

  7. Document ideas: Document all ideas generated during the brainstorming session. This will allow participants to refer to them later and help guide further discussion and decision-making.

  8. Select the most promising ideas: After the brainstorming session is complete, review and select the most promising ideas. Consider factors such as feasibility, impact, and alignment with objectives.

  9. Develop an action plan: Develop an action plan for further developing and implementing the selected ideas. This should include assigning responsibilities, establishing timelines, and setting clear objectives.


Examples of frameworks that can be used during a brainstorming session



The 6-3-5 method (often called brainstorming for introverts ;) )


Group discussions tend to promote the most confident and assertive individuals. However, self-confidence does not necessarily equate to exceptional creativity. This method allows individuals who are quiet and unable to assert themselves in a group to demonstrate their ideas.

The method involves six participants who each write down three ideas on a sheet of paper within five minutes. After five minutes, each participant passes their sheet to the person next to them, who then builds on the ideas already written down by adding three more ideas of their own.

The process repeats six times, with each participant adding three new ideas to the sheet they receive from their neighbour. As a result, each participant ends up with six sheets of paper, each containing 18 new ideas. After six rounds and 30 minutes, we have approximately 100 different views.


Template to use this method here



Reverse brainstorming


The reverse brainstorming effect may be more effective due to the participants' inclusion of critical thinking. Thinking about the problem differently can lead to conclusions that would not have occurred to us otherwise.

It’s a technique used to solve problems by considering the opposite perspective. Instead of generating ideas for solving a problem, the group focuses on generating ideas for creating or exacerbating the problem. This approach can help identify potential barriers or pitfalls in a project or idea and help the group find creative solutions to overcome them. The reverse brainstorming technique can be beneficial in situations where traditional brainstorming methods have failed to produce innovative solutions. By forcing the group to think about the problem from a different angle, the reverse brainstorming approach can help uncover new perspectives and insights, leading to more effective problem-solving.

Template to use this method here



Story Cubes


It’s a technique that uses a set of dice with different images on each side. Participants roll the dice and use the images that come up to inspire and guide their storytelling or idea generation. The images can be interpreted in various ways, allowing for a wide range of possibilities and sparking creativity. This method allows us to expand the field of associations with ideas that generally would not have occurred to us, and it will enable a refreshment of the group's approach.

Story cubes to use here



Crazy 8's


This method is commonly used for refining the devised solutions (previously generated by a group or individually). Each participant is given a piece of paper and chooses from the available pool of solutions they consider the best. The paper is divided into eight parts, and the participant sketches a different version of the solution in each part. They have 8 minutes for this, or 1 minute for each solution. Then, each participant presents their ideas to the group, and there is a vote for the best ideas.

Template to use this method here



Other examples of brainstorming techniques to look up: Mash-up, SCAMPER, Buzz session, Innovation generator, Whole Product game and many, many more! ;)



Conclusion


Organizing a brainstorming workshop is a great way to generate new ideas and conquer difficult challenges. However, it's important for the facilitator to choose the appropriate technique for the attendees to ensure success. There are many brainstorming frameworks available, each with its own guidelines, limitations, and techniques to help participants navigate the process. Depending on factors like group size and diversity, certain frameworks may be better suited for specific problems or teams. With so many options available, individuals and groups can choose the framework that aligns best with their goals and requirements. Ultimately, the goal of brainstorming is to generate innovative solutions, and these frameworks provide different pathways to achieve that objective.



 

Useful links:


“Brainstorming” The article by Interaction Design Foundation explores how brainstorming can assist UX designers in generating innovative ideas. It also provides practical tips for effective brainstorming.


“Ideation for Everyday Design challenges” A guide to solid ideation methodology.



gamestorming.com A library of workshop techniques (not only for brainstorming!)

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