Ideation in Business Design sprints is highly dependent on your project focus. In some cases, you may need a creativity technique to help your team come up with innovative ideas. We collected and described the most important ones that helped us over time to open minds in Business Design projects.
What is it?
When do I need it?
How does it work?
"Thinking caps" can be used to examine problems from different perspectives. Each team member takes on a role; different roles are represented by different coloured hats (or some other symbol). The team members act in line with their roles, enriching the discussion with different points of view.
Use "thinking caps" to facilitate discussions in which team members are liberated from their typical roles; this encourages a more open exchange of views. Make sure team members do not take things to extremes when playing their roles. It can be helpful to have one team member in a moderating role.
90% of all innovations are recombinations of already existing concepts. Creative ideas can be designed by combining different ideas (the more varied the better) in new ways. Replace existing elements of your ideas with new ones from outside your comfort zone, add new elements, or leave out "important" elements.
Often, if your team lacks heterogeneity, the ideas they generate will all be very similar. By recombining ideas from outside your team's comfort zone, the spectrum of ideas can be greatly extended, encouraging you to think in new ways.
New ideas are not fully formed, and are often rejected too soon by critical team members. By converting negative criticisms into positive suggestions for improvement, ideas can be matured and developed bit by bit, and transformed from initially questionable propositions into great ideas.
Especially when team members are used to looking at things critically ("I think it's a good idea, but..."), they often find it difficult to give feedback aimed at improving ideas. Negative criticisms should not be suppressed, but used as a basis for constructive suggestions.
Breaking with old thought patterns
Initial ideas are often based on team members' habitual ways of thinking. In order to get out of this comfort zone, the first (often quite obvious) ideas are discarded and new ones are created. This encourages team members to really use their creative potential.
Breaking with old thought patterns can help you make room for more creative ideas, by deliberately setting aside obvious ideas at the outset. This method is suitable for situations where your team is coming up with lots of ideas, but not many new ones.
When thinking about how to optimise existing business models, people often come up with ideas which only slightly modify or expand upon these models. Extreme goals, such as immediately doubling your turnover or completely converting your product business into a service business, can inspire you to think differently.
When developing ideas, give your team extreme goals to help liberate team members from their habitual thought patterns and ways of working. In order to do this, however, you will need to be prepared to question your current business model and, if necessary, to revolutionise it.
When developing ideas, it is important to keep trying to improve initial ideas rather than adhering rigidly to them. Trigger questions can help people to critically evaluate ideas and then, based on their evaluations, to improve and flesh out those ideas.
As soon as you have developed and prioritised some initial ideas, you can use trigger questions to refine your favourite ideas. Trigger questions are helpful whenever you feel that your idea is still very broad and abstract, or not formulated precisely enough.
Innovative business models often follow typical patterns, e.g. shop-in-shop, franchise, pay-per-use, freemium, lock-in, and many more. By applying such patterns to your business, you can generate exciting ideas for business model innovations.
The focus when generating ideas is often on innovative product and service offerings. Use existing patterns as inspiration whenever you want to encourage your team to think not only about innovative products and services but also about innovative business models.
Come up with new ideas in the Design phase
Depending on the chosen technique e.g. think out of the box, fuel discussions, trigger a change of perspective, etc. (see table on the right "When do I need it?")
Instructions for Coaches
Decide depending on your project scope, if an extended ideation phase is necessary or not. In many cases, your project team brings a bunch of ideas to the Design workshop and the only task will be to collect, describe and evaluate them.
When using creativity techniques during the Design workshop, they can require some time. Set your agenda accordingly and prepare corresponding tools.
Our Business Design Box is equipped with "Method Cards" that give you guidance on how to apply these creativity techniques.