Evaluating Ideation Techniques

Ideation is the process of coming up with creative solutions to stated problems. There are a variety of ideation techniques and unique processes that are helpful when trying to generate new ideas. These strategies can push you beyond your regular thought patterns and into deeper realms of your imaginative subconscious.

There are several ideation techniques which I find to be particularly successful for me.

Braindumping is really just brainstorming for introverts! Where brainstorming relies on the power of the group to leapfrog upon shared ideas, braindumping puts the individual in quiet isolation to unpack their own thinking around a topic and explore new patterns in their own thinking. When engaging in braindumping, I often like to use an entire pad of Post-it notes – this pushes me to continue thinking of new ideas. However in the absence of Post-its, I find the online tool Padlet to be a great way to collect my ideas.


Mindmapping is similar to braindumping, in that an individual begins to put ideas down on the paper or on the screen, but the focus here is in breaking apart the main idea, and exploring all different aspects of the problem. In a mindmap, you look at connections and relationships between different ideas, and build a visual representation of the overall big picture. My favorite tool for mindmapping is called Coggle – it is extremely easy to use, with simple keyboard shortcuts, and results in a polished looking image.


A final effect method of ideation for me is sketchstorming. Relying on quickly drawn  images, sketchstorming turns off the verbal part of your brain, and instead relies on the visuals. Since my drawing skills are poor, sketchstorming allows me to be a bit more humorous in my approach, which can often lead to really innovative solutions. Sketchstorming is also particularly helpful when considering the user interface of a website or app. Rather than sketching on paper, I attempted to sketch on my iPad using the Paper app.

Sketches - 4

Overall the experience of coming up with new ideas IdeationTechniques was interesting and impactful. I found myself slightly disappointed with the results of my ideation activities – especially compared to the success of my Mash Up activity discussed in a previous blog post. I think the difference was a lack of clarity around my problems. In retrospect, my Point of View problem statements were not as strong and therefore it became more challenging to develop solutions.

I also found that my most effective technique was braindumping. The other two methods I tried, mindmapping and sketchstorming, felt more limiting because I was pressured to perform in a certain way – one by making connections and the other by drawing. These restrictions narrowed my thinking, rather than allowing me to come up with new ideas.

Each of these techniques was effective in helping me come up with many different ideas – but in the end none of them felt as effective as my favorite technique for problem solving – the creative pause. A creative pause is a break where you step away from the worktable and let your mind work through a problem on its own. I find that the best solutions come to me when I take a creative pause. For me, a creative pause takes three distinct forms: lap swimming, fiber art crafting, or sleeping. If I have a problem that I just can’t solve, these three activities are far more successful at helping me arrive at a solution than any other fancy ideation techniques I have ever been taught!


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