Six Simple Idea Generation Techniques

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

If you are running a quick idea generation session with your team, here are six super simple idea generation techniques to help generate fresh ideas linked to an agreed innovation objective.  If you have more time for preparation, check out a blog from 2022 on our ten best idea generation techniques that we use with leading brands. Of course, you could try and skip the workshop altogether and see what ideas Chat GPT can come up with....maybe you don't have a need for a team anymore!

1. Ideas Brain Dump

Just go with the energy of the group and let people get their ideas "off their chests", but do keep them focused on the agreed Project Objectives. In a workshop, to avoid the "Chatter Box Charlie", we suggest you first do this as a an individual task before splitting into smaller teams. Alternatively, it can be done online BEFORE the workshop e.g. delegates "post their early ideas" using online ideas sharing platforms such as Zip-Zap Ideas®.

2. Redefine the Problem

Sometimes fresh ideas can simply come from reframing the problem that you face. We normally do this exercise as a two-part task. First, working in pairs, redefine the initial problem you face by using the phrase "HOW TO". For example, from "increase visits to store X" to "how to make it more exciting for people to shop in store X". Select the "how to" statements with greatest potential and start to brainstorm ideas against each one, working in pairs or in small teams.  For further information, take a look at another blog post of defining the focus for winning innovation.

3. Focus on the Key Benefits

An easy exercise if you are clear on the key benefits that you want your new solutions / service / products to deliver.  This is especially relevant if you are looking to generate new and more compelling claims for your brand or product. Focus idea generation on specific "benefit statements" that are related to the overall project objectives. Prepare a list benefit statements before the workshop and ensure that they are no more than 3 words long e.g. faster service; easier parking; longer lasting protection; etc. Split into small teams and ask each team to generate new ideas and claims that are inspired by the different statements. 

4. Wearing Your Customer's Shoes

In most projects that we run, we take time to focus idea generation against deeper consumer and customer insights that we look to identify before a workshop session. If you don't have these insights, you can still encourage your team to wear the shoes of your target customers or consumers. Split the group into small teams and give each team a different consumer profile to role play. First get them to quickly brainstorm some issues that their consumer might have linked to the broad project objectives. Then ask them to focus on one or two issues to generate some specific new ideas to overcome the problem. Prepare consumer profiles in advance and add extra relevant details.

5. Wearing Your Competitors Shoes

Most business schools and military academies around the world run courses on understanding the behaviour and motivation of your competition. In a workshop session, split the group into mini-teams and get them to role play and brainstorm new ideas from the perspective of a different competitor, but keep them linked to the overall project objectives. You could make this even more focused by getting the "competitors" to focus on some of the leading insights, and imagine what a potential NEW competitor would do if they entered the market e.g. what would Apple or Amazon do if they entered your market? Run the exercise for 10-15 minutes and look to rotate teams with different competitor profiles.  And if teams are starting to get tired, check out our best workshop energisers.

6. You Are Best Practice

Finally, wrap up your creative facilitation session with an exercise to get people thinking into the future and what best practice should or could be.  Again, keep working in small teams and role play what "best practice" companies might do to help generate new solutions relevant to the objectives of your project. Agree the "best practice" companies in advance and choose companies that offer services or products in other categories e.g. customer service ideas from a best practice retailer, hotel or airline. You could split this into two tasks.  In task 1, brainstorm all the things that make these companies best practice, listing ideas big and small.  In task 2, look to generate and build ideas from the "best practice companies", and how they could be applied to your own project objectives.

Take a look at our other blog posts with more ideas and suggestions on how to drive winning innovation with your teams.  And if you are looking for agile ways of capturing and refining your ideas, especially for virtual teams, you check out Zip-Zap Ideas®, for idea sharing made simple.

Get in touch if you have any questions or comments - we'd love to hear from you.