Our top five favourite idea generation techniques

Everything starts with that one flash of inspiration. To help you find it, here are our top five favourite idea generation techniques that you can start using today.

Owen Hunnam
by Owen Hunnam
idea generation techniques

Ideas are the fuel that drive your innovation strategy. When you’re managing an innovation programme, you need to be sure that you have a healthy flow of new concepts that might be workable in your next implementation. We like to think of idea selection as a funnel process – you need a wide input at the top to give you the best chance of finding quality ideas. Unfortunately, fresh ideas aren’t always there when you need them.

That’s precisely why idea generation techniques and strategies are the first step in building an efficient innovation management process. Here are our favourite ways to consistently generate great new ideas from your team. We hope that you’ll find one that works for you.

Mindmap sessions

Sometimes, you simply can’t beat the classics.

A traditional mind map is a fantastic way to lay out all the critical information surrounding your innovation challenge and start to combine ideas. As you expand on your central theme, you’ll begin to make connections that build from each other and bring you to unexpected conclusions. Mind maps enable you to follow multiple strings of thought at the same time, allowing ideas to flow more easily and merge together.

To take your mind map sessions to the next level, make sure you use a large canvas and small text to maximise space. Colours and images help to stimulate your imagination, so try drawing ideas instead of writing them where appropriate.

You can use a mind map on your own or with a team – it’s the perfect tool for your next team brainstorming session.

First principles design

This fascinating creative technique was recently popularised by Elon Musk and his extraordinary capacity for innovation. It involves dismantling popular assumptions about your subject and unveiling its core truths – the facts that you know to be unassailable. When you have a deep grasp of the first principles, you may be able to bypass traditional solutions and reach exciting new conclusions.

Searching for first principles can be a difficult process, but you will get better at it with time and practice. Start by making a list of all the things you think you know about your subject. For each entry, ask yourself why you ‘know’ this piece of information. Do you know this because you were told it? Because you experienced it yourself? What is the evidence that supports this idea? It’s also useful to ask yourself whether the opposite might be true.

To learn more about first principles reasoning, take a look at this great article at the Farnham Street blog.

Collaborative innovation

No two people ever look at a problem in the same way. Our different backgrounds, knowledge, diverse skills, and experiences mean that we all look for solutions in different places and take different routes to get there. That’s why collaboration is such an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to generating ideas.

However, it’s often not enough to collaborate with the people around you. For truly innovative ideas, you need to get out of your comfort zone and work together with people from a broad range of different backgrounds. Here at Idea Drop, we like to call this process Collaborative Innovation. It’s a lot like networking, but instead of looking for a job or new sales leads, you are searching for new perspectives that can help you understand your subject on a different level. We recommend working with personnel from different departments and business units both inside and outside your own organisation.

Blue-sky brainstorming

We’ve written extensively about blue-sky brainstorming in a previous post, but it remains one of our all-time favourite idea generation techniques. The key is creating a space where any and all ideas are welcome, no matter how crazy, silly or impossible they might seem. This will help you bypass the self-consciousness that stifles creative impulses and unlock near limitless creativity.

Idea capture

Sometimes, finding inspiration is like catching fish – all you can do is sit quietly and wait. However, you still need to be ready when inspiration finally strikes. That’s why it’s crucially important to have some way of recording ideas with you at all times. Great ideas really can come from anywhere and you need to be ready.

That’s precisely why we founded Idea Drop in the first place – to give you a complete solution to record and manage your ideas no matter where or when inspiration strikes you. Idea Drop is the first vendor to create a native mobile app enabling your team to capture their best ideas at any time and from anywhere.

Get in touch today to discover how we can help you make sure you never miss a great idea again.

Capture and action the best ideas from your people.

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