Anastasiya Bulykina
Anastasiya Bulykina
B2B Marketing Manager
January 2023, 6 min. read

Welcome to our blog post on ideation workshop tools and techniques! This article explores various tools and techniques you can use to generate new and innovative ideas. Whether you are a pro or new to ideation workshops, this article will provide valuable insights.

Ideation process in software product development

The most successful software applications don’t start with the development process but the discovery phase. It is vital to consider a project’s goals, budget, and timeline at the very beginning.

Some projects may have a clear roadmap. For example, adding new technology integrations to an existing product. On the other hand, a new product that achieves a specific result. The process for achieving it is open to exploration.

What is an Ideation workshop?

Ideation is an on-site or online meeting for a group that wants to generate ideas and explore potential solutions to a problem. The primary goal is to generate as many ideas as possible. It is a helpful method for organizations willing to stimulate creativity and develop innovative solutions to their challenges. You can structurize ideation workshops in a variety of ways. However, it always involves brainstorming, problem-solving exercises, and group discussions.

Most common tools and techniques for a product ideation workshop

Brainstorming

Brainstorming is a group method of generating ideas and solving problems. It is based on using different techniques to facilitate discussion with the team and develop solutions to the concrete topic. The primary goal of brainstorming is to stick to the chosen topic and expand it as much as possible. All members participate in the judgment-free process and express their ideas and solutions freely. 

Assign the facilitator

The first thing to remember is that you will need a facilitator for brainstorming activities. It will help the team better understand common objectives and structure the discussion. Companies can have great ideas that they discuss. But frequently, they struggle to “bring them all together”.

For this reason, it is more effective to engage in individual brainstorming before sharing ideas with the group. As a result, less vocal group members demonstrate their thoughts. It can lead to a more diverse range of ideas being considered. Once individual brainstorming has taken place, the group can build on these ideas and further develop them.

Mind mapping

It is a tool for capturing the creative thinking process. It gathers knowledge and helps to create and organize ideas. Choose your central theme and write the word in the middle of the board. Then write all the associations with the principal theme — anything that comes to mind. 

If your ideation workshop is in an online format, you can use web solutions. In fact, many different mind mapping tools, free and paid, can be used to create mind maps. For this purpose, check popular mind-mapping tools like:

Miro

XMind

MindMeister

Coggle

Mind mapping for ideation workshop

Opposite thinking

If you feel stuck in a process, revise your thinking and start in the opposite direction. List assumptions you have on the topic and then reverse them. In other words, create opposite statements and use “How might we…” questions. For example: 

– How might we convince a customer to buy our product? 

The opposite of this statement is:

– How might we discourage the client from purchasing our product? 

You can also phrase it differently with assumptions:

Assumption: ___________________________________________

Opposite: ______________________________________________

Solution: _______________________________________________

Brainstorm a list of potential causes for the opposite problem. For example, the opposite situation is customer dissatisfaction. As a result, reasons might include poor quality products, unresponsive customer service, or a difficult-to-use website.

6-3-5 method

This technique is excellent for 6-8 people in the group. It encourages the participation of all group members and stimulates creativity. Firstly, identify the challenge you’re trying to solve. Each person in the team writes six ideas related to the problem. Do it independently, without discussion.

Then the group comes together and discusses each member’s ideas. Each member presents their ideas, and the group discusses and builds on them. Afterward, the group selects the five breakthrough ideas and discusses them in more detail.

In the end, the group selects the three most promising ideas and discusses them further, refining and developing them as needed.

6-3-5 method for ideation workshop

Assumption Mapping

This technique centralizes three significant factors: desirability, feasibility, and viability. Name assumptions you can have from a business perspective (Should we do this?) and from a technical point of view (Can we do this?). It leads to a better understanding of the logic behind a decision and the assumptions that are being made about the idea.

Then map out your hypotheses on paper and categorize them into important/not important and known/unknown categories. Identifying hidden assumptions, potential risks, or uncertainties is a great practice after all.

assumption mapping for ideation workshop

Six Thinking Hats

This technique is used to give different directions and divide your thinking process into clear categories, visualized as assorted colors of hats: The Big Picture/Managing (blue), Information (white), Feelings and Emotions (red), Positive view (yellow), Negative view (black), New Ideas (green).

Start with identifying the problem or challenge you want to solve. Each person in the group would then take turns “wearing” a different thinking hat and considering the challenge/idea from that perspective. 

6 thinking hats for ideation workshop

Affinity Diagram

It is one of the best ways to conclude your brainstorming session when you have a lot of uncategorized ideas. Entire teams gather the notes and records of the progress and place them on the wall. After that, you look for natural affinities and similarities. Without talking, participants sort the ideas into 5-10 related groups.

Discuss ideas within the group and summarize the key characteristics of the ideas. You can also use an affinity diagram as a feature prioritization tool. Prioritize the ideas based on their importance or value to the end user or the business.

affinity diagram for ideation workshop

Crazy 8’s

Divide a piece of paper into eight sections and set a timer for eight minutes. Each participant sketches eight different ideas – one idea per minute! The goal is to fill all the squares. In short, It helps team members to push beyond their first proposition and engage imaginativeness.

Sketches are not supposed to be beautiful. It is an insight into the idea. In fact, impulsivity and time pressure can bring unexpected results. From Crazy 8’s results, you can move forward to the prototyping activity.

Crazy 8 for ideation workshop

Round Robin

In this method, a group of individuals sit in a circle and share ideas on a specific topic or problem. The facilitator writes all the ideas, and the group continues to go around the circle until everyone can contribute. The facilitator reviews the list of ideas and may ask for clarification or elaboration.

Then the group discusses and further develops the ideas. Undoubtedly, this ideation technique is straightforward and efficient for generating many ideas. It is beneficial for groups experiencing difficulty coming up with ideas.

Prototyping

Prototyping is a great technique to test and refine the design of a product. Designers and other workshop participants can use it to create a preliminary model or prototype. So that they can quickly explore various ideas and receive feedback on their designs.

Prototyping helps designers visualize and understand how solutions will work. It can also identify any challenges you should address before moving forward. As a part of ideation workshops, you can create low-fidelity prototypes with the group. You may have sketches, paper models, simple presentations, or visualization.

The five tips for ideation workshop:

  1. Clarify a challenge or problem.
  2. Set up a facilitator.
  3. Document all ideas.
  4. Use visual ideation techniques, not just discussions.
  5. Avoid groupthink. Let everyone share their idea and contribute to the discussion.
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