Ideation or creating an idea is a skill as well as related to human understanding of ideas, observation and power of clarity in thoughts. Idea generation can be done through various methods. Sometimes sitting under a tree makes you think of a solution or sometimes when you are in a lot of pain or argument with somebody you get an idea. All it needs is your seriousness and thought process. I have experienced it many times.
Ideas are not time-bound or place-bound, it majorly occurs when we want to do it. It depends on the engagement of the human mind in a particular environment and the fulfilment of human understanding of ideation.
Ideation techniques can be many as researchers discuss a lot of them in books, videos and specifically on the Internet nowadays. While I have an understanding of this, I wanted to discuss a few of the different perspectives.
In the list of idea generation techniques, the first name which emerges is brainstorming where a group of 5-6 people is engaged to produce relevant ideas. It is an umbrella technique under which many other techniques are propagated. Certain methods are used to decrease the influence of dominators and other agents as well as facilitators.
The limitation of this technique includes dominant forces, facilitators, overconfident members and those who take charge of the whole session. Sometimes facilitator of the session makes such arguments or ideas which create a follower feeling and everyone in the place follows the same idea. This is difficult as great ideas can not occur in this kind of situation. So brainstorming is getting old every day and to solve the corporate problems and generate start-up ideas new techniques are being developed and used for the same.
However, as the number of techniques for ideation has increased, it is now difficult to understand which technique can be selected as the one best for a particular problem.
So here we are discussing a few important kinds of idea generation techniques which I feel as a teacher can help anyone out there to solve any problems being faced in business or ideation.
The application of this technique somehow depends upon the type of problem we are facing and relates to the existing issue out there.
SCAMPER name is an acronym which can be elaborated as S for Substitute, C for compare, A for Adapt, M for modify, P for putting to other use, E for eliminate, and R for reverse.
These acronyms are used during the implementation of the technique. Let’s understand its use through an example. The technique says in order to solve any problem or generate ideas we must learn these action verbs and others to solve a problem.
SCAMPER technique can be used for a simple problem like designing a water bottle for teachers in a college. Through the use of SCAMPER, ideas can be generated and many questions which are based on the action verbs in the SCAMPER will help you solve the problem in its unique way. How can I change my morning routine from a late riser to an early riser? Using SCAMPER a person can modify his habits of late sleep, Early morning rise problem, Ending a task on time, HR issues in a company, Data usage in a company etc.
Focus group Discussion
Focus group discussion is a great technique for ideation. IN FGD a total of 5-8 people with similar knowledge and mindset are brought into a place and a certain problem is discussed with them and asked to relate to the problem.
The members then discuss it and make assumptions and points which are very relevant to the given problem and try to discuss and engage other members and bring out certain well-thought points which can lead to a solution for the problem.
It is nowhere in the list but I believe for introverts this is a favourite technique. The process is easy and it is like watching tv for many hours. Sometimes we have a human resource problem where inputs are needed to declare somebody as fast or slow, good or bad, reliable or non-reliable, punctual or not.
All these are the basic human problems and to solve this problem observation technique can be used. In order to create ideas like psychologists do and make their patients sit and talk. This technique has limitations but it can be used for various solutions in human resources as well as psychological problems with the people in the organisation.
As I already discussed brainstorming is a powerful technique. Even newton used this technique to understand the gravity problem through a falling apple. Brainstorming is a powerful technique for individuals and groups. Brainstorming can help you imagine what is beyond or what you never thought. For example, I recently conducted one session with students and asked them to tell me what are the different uses of a whiteboard marker, when it stops writing. Let me list down the option as given by students.
- Refill it
- Small Medicine storage
- Together they can be used for decoration
- We can build laser lights
- We can build torches
- We can build birdhouses
- We can make pen storage
- Drip irrigation
- Makeup kit for travel
- and many others
These all may seem DIY ideas but it takes time to relate and If I ask you honestly whether you would have thought of such a solution, most of you will say a big NO!!!!!!
Another vibrant way to create ideas for business or solving a problem. In free association members are given a given statement without explanation and then a certain word or noun is chosen like OCEAN, MOUNTAIN, HORSE, HOUSE. These words are names but all of them have certain characteristics which distinguish them from other.
Like a Horse is an animal, fast, strong lives long, and is a good friend to humans. All these characteristics can be used to create ideas and this bound process makes it easy to create ideas and relate them to existing knowledge or problem.
It is well-celebrated technique for ideation and it also removes many problems faced in brainstorming or focus group discussions.The facilitator distributes members with notebooks and there is an explained problem written or posted to the notebook. The facilitator may discuss the problem and provide a timeline and then take followups from the participants.
This process is useful for bigger problems and participants are given a timeline in which they quote ideas arousing in their minds and draft them in their notebooks. This technique concludes by submitting the notebooks to the facilitator and he then discusses and puts all the great ideas in a line and makes the decision for a final idea which solves the problem.
These are not the only techniques used for idea generation. Researchers have given a great list of idea generation techniques which do have their problems and answers to the problems.