What is the Concept of Ideation?

Check your assumptions at the innovation door.

Innovative Thinking – What is the Concept of Ideation?


Ideation is the creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas, where an idea is understood as a basic element of thought that can be either visual, concrete, or abstract.

Ideation comprises four stages of a thought cycle, from problem finding, fact finding, problem definition, to idea finding. We refer to this as Simplexity Thinking.

Ideation is separated into clearly defined steps, to take you from initial problem-finding right through to implementing the solutions you have created. It allows everyone to participate in an unbiased, open-minded way. In effective ideation, judgment is deferred and opinions on ideas do not get in the way of ideas.

Open-ended discussion, freedom of thought and successful problem-solving can only take place when people are not simultaneously forming opinions and jumping to premature conclusions.

During ideation, the primary aim is to generate a large quantity of ideas that the team can then filter and cut down into the best, most practical or most innovative ones in order to inspire new and better design solutions and products.

Innovative thinking represents a process of ‘going wide’ in terms of concepts and outcomes. Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building and getting innovative solutions into the hands of your users.

The Key Questions to ask for Strong team Ideation & innovation are:

  • Are you solving the right problems?
  • Do you see problems as opportunities?
  • Do you spend more time judging ideas than you do thinking of ideas?
  • Do you evaluate ideas carefully and respectfully?
  • Do you leave meetings with a concrete plan of action?

How do we improve a project by defining the problem first before defining the solution?

When it comes to problem solving and idea generation, two ways that are commonly cited, are divergent and convergent thinking strategies.

Divergent thinking means expanding your thoughts and developing options in many different directions: searching for new trends, problems, possibilities & opportunities for change, defining problems from different angles, looking for different facts and points of view and even seeking out options and alternatives when it seems that none exist. Divergence skill requires letting ideas come to light in the absence of criticism and instant over-analysis. Deferring judgment enables you to pursue directions you did not think possible. Judging or criticizing inhibits divergent thinking.

Convergent thinking means narrowing the focus, carefully selecting the best options to take forward, and importantly always with an open mind. When a group is charged with evaluating a wide array of options and possibilities, the ability to hold off premature judgment, to listen carefully, to clarify and respect what others are saying and to apply unbiased criteria, is of paramount importance. Removing misunderstandings, assumptions, hidden motives, or ego enables the group to zero in on the options that everyone believes are important and be committed to them. In other words, this is a kind of thinking that concentrates on finding out the single best or frequently, correct solution to a problem or answer to a question.

No matter which step in an innovation or brainstorming process, a team must demonstrate specific converging skills to ensure a high-quality innovative result.

Ideation effectiveness means being adaptable ideation whenever you can alone and in small groups, especially as the epiphany, the moment hits you, your group.  Even if you are forced into the big program, why not be examining trends, needs, abstractions and then developing ideas all of the time?  Ideation is not scheduled!

In summary

Successful ideation is dependent on quality divergent thinking balanced with quality convergent thinking at every step of the innovation process with deferral of judgment managed consistently throughout.

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