Our 5 killer ideation techniques

In our last blog post we explored the phenomenon of patterning, a biochemical process in the brain, which can inhibit creative thinking.

To overcome patterning, we need ideation techniques that encourage respondents to think creatively and generate a wealth of ideas. Here are 5 of our favourites:

1. Corporate takeover

Corporate Takeover is a technique which encourages respondents to think differently by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes: in this case by imagining they work for another company.

How does it work? Respondents are first given a challenge, for example ‘develop a new type of chocolate bar’ before being shown a series of brand logos. Respondents are then asked to imagine how these brands would approach the challenge, coming up with as many ideas as possible

2. Alter ego

Our second technique, Alter Ego, works in a similar way to Corporate Takeover. Respondents are set a challenge and then asked to view the task through the eyes of a well-known person. This could be a fictional character, such as a superhero or book character, or a famous person, like a celebrity or a historical figure. Asking respondents how Kanye West or James Bond would develop a new product will certainly generate some interesting ideas!

3. Reverse brainstorming

Coming up with new ideas can be tough, but thinking of reasons as to why an idea won’t take off is often a much easier challenge! Reverse brainstorming seeks to build on this phenomenon to help generate a wealth of new and creative ideas.

To facilitate a reverse brainstorm, first identify your challenge. Then reverse it, so if your challenge is to satisfy consumers, instead ask how a brand would dissatisfy its customers. Next ask consumers to come up with as many ideas as possible to solve the reversed challenge. Finally, ask respondents to flip the ideas they’ve come up with to develop solutions to your original challenge.

4. Random input

This ideation technique seeks to generate new ideas by using random inputs to stretch your thinking.

How does it work? First define your challenge. Then agree on a random word and use this as a starting point to come up with 4 – 5 associated words. These are then used as springboards for developing ideas that solve the original challenge.

This may seem like a bizarre means of generating ideas but its random nature helps to take your thinking to new and exciting places.

5. Spark

Spark is a fast-paced ideation card game, designed by FreshMinds. The rules of the game are simple. Respondents are first given a platform to ideate around and then asked to draw a card. Each card has an instruction on it. This can be anything from adding features, to gamifying the concept, to changing the distribution. They then use this instruction to come up with an idea. Once they’ve shared their idea with the group, they get to keep the card and play passes to the next person.

As respondents draw every more cards, they’re asked to reconsider the purpose, add or remove features, or rethink the concept entirely, encouraging them to think creatively. If you would like to order a copy of the Spark cards, please get in touch.

This blog post is part of series designed to equip insight professionals with the tools, frameworks and terminology to make their mark on the innovation process. Want to know more? Download our whitepaper on the subject here.