No new innovation, no ground-breaking design, and no thought-provoking artistic movement ever succeeded through restrictive, strait-laced thinking. Whether you’re creating a website interface, an illustration, or some other creative endeavor, ensuring your designers feel free to test out fresh ideas is critical.
Enter creative ideation – a simple concept for inspiring innovative design and novel ideas.
In this article, we explore creative ideation, explaining what it is, how it works, and why it’s so important for transforming projects from ordinary to exceptional.
What is Creative Ideation?
Creative ideation refers to the process of generating innovative ideas and solutions to problems or challenges. That could be a new business strategy, an inspired web layout, or a company name.
So long as the challenge requires fresh ideas, then this is the process for helping spark your team’s inspiration.
Through this method, individuals or teams can explore multiple perspectives and potential strategies – seeing which is the best fit. This technique is often used in the early stages of project development, helping discover solutions that traditional problem-solving methods may not identify.
How Creative Ideation Works
Creative ideation is a structured yet flexible process. Don’t stick rigidly to the steps below; tailor them to your problem or challenge. Here’s how it generally works:
- Start by defining your problem or challenge. That includes listing what you’ll need to do to solve it, what’s needed, and other key information.
- Next, gather information – usually, you’ll want to ask the client what they’re after. However, you could also look at competitors, previous work, and other ideas.
- After you’ve got some ideas, begin a brainstorming session. It’s important everyone feels free to voice their ideas without judgment.
- Capture everyone’s ideas in an easy-to-use format. That could be on paper or using some kind of mind-mapping software.
- Categorize and analyze the group’s ideas – including similar ideas, feasibility, and potential impact.
- Last, refine the best ideas into a promising solution for further development and training.
Creative Ideation Techniques for Innovative Design
Not every ideation session is the same. There are several different techniques and methods to help break out of conventional thinking. These include:
Brainstorming is a tried-and-tested solution used by designers and teams to spark a large number of ideas. All you need is a pen and a whiteboard to start writing down whatever ideas come to mind.
The sessions only truly work if everyone says exactly what they think. In fact, even a “bad idea” can spark an idea in someone else.
To maximize the effectiveness of a brainstorming session, create an inclusive and supportive environment. That includes clear guidelines, lots of time to get the ideas flowing, and an easy way to record the ideas.
Mind mapping is similar to brainstorming. However, rather than trying to generate as many ideas as possible, this technique helps find connections between existing concepts.
Think about how many innovative ideas were simply the fusion of seemingly unrelated concepts – be it the 2000s flip phone or peanut butter and jelly.
Create branches and add related ideas starting with a central idea or challenge. The goal is to create a map of interconnected thoughts. Then, go back and look to see how you can connect different branches and formulate new ideas.
Iterative sketching is a less well-known form of creative ideation. Unlike the other two examples, it’s purely visual. It involves creating multiple sketches or prototype experiments with different forms, functions, and aesthetics as you gradually refine the idea towards the most promising solution.
You’ll find iterative sketching helpful in designing products or visual layouts – think magazines or websites.
Creating an Environment That Values Out-of-the-Box Thinking
Using creative ideation techniques is a fantastic way to get your design experimenting with new and unusual ideas. However, it’s only the first step.
Creative ideation is less a single exercise and more a way of running a company, department, or team. It’s a culture. Building an environment where out-of-the-box thinking can flourish doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and effort.
Here are some tips:
- Fostering psychological safety is the best thing you can do to get ideas flowing. Too often, when employers or managers ask for ideas, an awkward silence descends. No one wants to say something stupid. Emphasis the idea that there is no stupid answer to get members to share their most innovative and unconventional thoughts.
- Reward risk-taking with positive feedback. If someone ventures an idea, thank them for it. Explore the idea and why it works or doesn’t work. Failures always line the road to success. Only through positive reinforcement can you build the culture you require.
- Provide adequate time and resources to explore new ideas and experiment. While necessity is the mother of invention, it’s not always conducive to the first ideas.
- Lead by example by throwing your ideas into the mix first. That can help spark the conversation and let others follow with their ideas.
- Create opportunities for groups to get together and share ideas. However, that doesn’t have to be a single occasion – integrating certain communication or collaborative platforms can encourage a dialogue of ideas and perspectives.
Risking taking and inventive thinking don’t happen by themselves. Only by developing a collaborative, open culture can you encourage people to voice their thoughts.
That’s the logic behind creative ideation.
But it also helps to have a platform where they can share and explore those ideas. Ashore is an online proofing platform that provides an easy way to collaborate, showcase projects, and experiment with new ideas.
Get started for FREE today and be the catalyst for innovative design!