In Chapter 10, we outline our take on concept generation. We distinguish Structured Ideation from Brainstorming, as a more methodical approach. A thoughtful, intentional process will make you far more productive, whether you are working alone or in a group. Ideas don’t so much strike, as they emerge by pulling together threads of insight and context.

We give you four basic steps for concept generation:

1. Align on your Innovation Intent, Design Principles and key frameworks
2. Gather or generate as many ideas as possible
3. Organize and connect ideas to multiply their effectiveness
4. Try them out, and see what happens

The big difference when compared to Brainstorming is in leveraging a more methodical approach starting with one of the frameworks we used before, or some of the design principles that emerged from them, and focus idea generation on key intersections. It’s not random: it’s structured.

What seems to be working

  • We’ve seen our Structured Ideation approach play out successfully many times, so we’re sticking with the ideation steps outlined on page 137-137.
  • The Ideation Guidelines we included were adapted by us from a variety of collected wisdom. We still think they work.

Areas that need more work or input

  • In reading the overview of the approach, we’re less sold on the words we’ve used for Align, Gather, Organize and Try Out. We’re looking to evolve this and open to suggestions.
  • Prioritization during concept generation is always a challenge, as ideas are not well formed yet you need some way to manage the . Do you have any more suggestions for handling this well?
  • We reference crowdsourcing but only just touch on it. Given the advance of platforms to help facilitate this approach, is it worth expounding on it further?
  • To include warm up exercises, or not to include them? That is the question. We’ve had a lot of hits and misses using warm up exercises. Would it be worth including more than our mindmapping reference, perhaps as a sidebar? Do you have any which are a surefire success?
After you’ve read the chapter, please post your thoughts, constructive critique, and suggestions below. Thank you!
  • Bruno

    On Crowdsourcing, I think it is important concept that has grown a lot since the first edition of the book so it probably deserve more space.
    However, I do not feel it specifically belong in this section as much as getting a section of its own. Let me explain:
    - crowdsourcing is much broader than just concept generation. e.g.: Logitech bought “companies” or ideas that have grown successfully out of Kickstarter (the crow funding platform), this is in effect crowdsourcing the innovation, but not in the concept stage, but the final product as well as crowd souring new people
    - several platforms allow for companies to throw specific problems/bounties and anyone can propose a solution. Again, not sourcing concepts, but more advanced solutions.

    A chapter on crowdsourcing is changing the innovation landscape (at different stages) and how a company could leverage this would be a good addition.