An Idea of “Ideation”

You might wonder why the topic of idea generation is positioned after the customer discovery phase, when most often you actually start off on your journey with an idea? And your doubts are reasonable, as ideation actually happens at every stage of the creation process. You constantly need to have ideas to overcome challenges that you haven’t anticipated or need to tackle new problems that pop-up along the way. And all the tools listed in the following, as well as many more, can be applied at any point in time.

But if you see the overall creation process as a framework, ideation will always be positioned after the initial steps of understanding a challenge, problem or situation, learning something about it by discovering the reasons and motives behind it and translating those into addressable opportunities.  In other words: “What’s wrong? Why is it wrong? What can I do about it?” Following these steps, helps taking the randomness out of generating ideas. Which is still too often the case in organizations, where you can experience sessions called by the boss with the quest of: “We need more profit. Let’s have some ideas!”. Everyone in the room can have ideas in this case. But which ones are good? Which are the bad ones? And how can we tell?

Hence, we recommended starting with customer discovery to have a broader set of information to draw from, understanding not only the challenge or problem, but also the “why”. Being able to decide which direction to focus the idea generation on is crucial to its success.

Even if you started off with an idea, now you might know that you have to have different ideas to address the refined or newly articulated opportunity, or you might need to have some additional ideas for people to understand your initial idea, or to adopt it, or to communicate it, etc.