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The Best Ideation Tools for Business Success

16_Innovation_Tools_.pngDid you know that many breakthrough and brilliant ideas started from ridiculously sounding ones? As most people where content with their physical book, Amazon took the lead in online book business. When most people thought videos were only meant for the TV, YouTube took the ‘wild’ business idea of creating a website where people can easily share their memorable experiences. Today, these companies are generating billions of dollars in revenue annually just because they were brave enough to put their seemingly ridiculous ideas into work. 

What’s the lesson here?

Great ideas don’t happen out of pure luck and accident. Ideas, no matter how ridiculous they sound at times, happen and succeed by linking knowledge, insights and experience. These companies succeed because they know how to make connections. They are thriving because they focus on creating strong connections rather than on being stuck into the thought of having a stupidly sounding idea. It’s as simple as that.

Must-have ideation tools.

The secret to business success is to learn the tricks of the trade. Tons of ideation tools abound the internet. These might overwhelm you in the process, so we’ve provided you with a concise but comprehensive list of ideation tools and tipa that you can apply to your business.  

  1. Idea Bridge. This tool uses the concept that our left and right brains are used for specific tasks and people have a bias to one side. Some people have a lot of ideas while others are hesitant of their thoughts. Hence, ideas are created through an exercise that won’t verbalize ideas or creations, making this tool work best for introverts. Everyone participates by writing ideas and questions on sticky notes. This then builds the bridge from both sides, linking ideas with constraints. Both ideas and constraints are given a fair share of focus. 

    This tool is designed to effectively help create your ideas by removing existing key elements in your product or business model. When you need disruptive or divergent ideas about an existing product or model because you want to disrupt your or your competitor’s product, this tool is the most suitable one for your business. Do keep in mind though that this tool isn’t for solving a problem or improving something that already exists.

  2. Reverse Innovation. Instead of asking directly for ideas, participants are asked for their insights and observations which make it easier to engage them. Thereafter we tweak and manipulate the experience to create something new. The method is often surprising but powerful. Participants who are not used to formal meetings or brainstorming are the perfect audiences of this ideation tool. It works well for processes but assumes there’s already an existing process. It is not a tool used when you are inventing or creating something new.

  3. Innovation Hacking. This ideation tool is used to welcome a wide array of potentially disruptive ideas. When you want different versions or variations of ideas of something that already exists, hacking or altering elements to create new ones is what you should use. However, when you want improvement ideas rather than divergent ideas or when you want a very specific result rather than a wide range of potentially disruptive ideas, then this ideation tool should not be used.

Different tools, different rules.

Setting ground rules allows facilitators to remind participants about the visual agenda without being too pushy or intimidating, and helps team members loosen up and become comfortable with the process of ideation.

  1. Hold your nerve. Jitters are normal, even some of the most experienced facilitators in the world still get nervous and anxious at times. Do not overthink and get overwhelmed with the responsibilities given unto you. Most importantly, take a deep breath, smile and have fun.
  2. Create and sustain energy. As the facilitator, your role is very crucial in getting your participants interested and energized not just at the beginning of the workshop, but more importantly until the workshop concludes. As a facilitator, remember that your energy is contagious whether you are the humorous or charismatic type. Make use of that tool as an advantage.
  3. Protect the ideators. Some ideators speak comfortably and confidently while others are unsure of their ideas. As the facilitator, it is your job to protect their ideas by constantly reminding everyone that no idea is a bad idea. You can elaborate on this by providing examples of seemingly ridiculous ideas that actually worked and made breakthroughs. You have the internet for it.
  4. Continually offer affirmation. Always give positive encouragement and affirmation physically and verbally. Studies show that positive affirmation produces positive engagement and is more successful at bringing good results. Go on and tell ideators that their ideas are brilliant, that you love their ideas, and that they are doing a great job.
  5. Facilitate, don’t ideate. Let them do the thinking and talking. Fight the urge to think for them. Your job is to guide them, not to spoon-feed them with your own ideas. If there are ideas that you want to convey, frame it in a question to engage them to think and answer.
  6. Don’t confuse energy with ideas. Workshops have all sorts of people with different personalities. Some have more dominant personalities over the others which make it uncomfortable for introverts. Always have fair judgment and allow all parties to share their ideas. Letting all participants write down their ideas ensures fair treatment and encouragement to both extroverts and introverts.

Always ask ideators to choose their top two favorite ideas before you finish. Now you have a long list of ideas. What do you do next? Before converging ideas, it’s important to know which ideas should be highly prioritized. This way, it would be easier for the sponsor to choose which ideas will progress further. Let participants choose a first and second favorite idea. When they can’t decide what to prioritize, let them give one of their votes to another participant’s idea.

Facilitating Innovation Program 

Patrick Roupin
Patrick Roupin
Patrick Roupin’s approach is to transform user and organization needs into viable, usable and engaging product, service, process and policy solutions. He has spent 11+ years in advocating co-creation value as an advisor for businesses, governments and non-profits to use customers and citizen’s insights to build relationship and deliver values. As business design strategist, he cannot design something that he doesn’t truly and wholeheartedly believes in. That makes his work creative, unique and passionate. Patrick’s thrill is to contribute to human capacity development by enabling customers and citizens’ engagement across variety of platforms such as social network, community and social entrepreneurship. He believes in building stories that make brands admirable and empower people in doing what they really care. Patrick is a globe-trotter working in Europe, India and the Middle East for organizations such as Decathlon, Disney, Euroclear, Faurecia, Government of Saudi Arabia, Human Factors, Ingersoll Rand to name a few. Patrick blogs at www.kovent.com and delivers speeches and lectures at Dilip Chhabria Institute, STC, Raffles International and Welingkar in India, Rubika - CCI, L’école de Design Nante Atlantique and Rennes Business School in France, University International of Rabat in Morocco.

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