From daft ideas come brilliant solutions

Ideation is a key element of the NoTosh Design Thinking process – quite simply, coming up with lots of great ideas in an environment where the only thing that’s limited is the time you can take!

The 100 Ideas Challenge is a great one to try out with your team. Once you’ve identified and agreed the problem you want to solve, or the challenge you’re facing, here’s what you do:

  • Put everyone into small teams
  • Equip each team with a large sheet of paper
  • Assign a scribe within each team
  • Set a 10 minute time limit (remember to appoint a time-keeper!)
  • Give regular warnings as time starts to run out
  • Count the ideas and offer a prize to the team with the most
  • Celebrate everyone’s efforts!

Those are the practicalities, but remember that the idea is to give people the freedom to be exploratory, imaginative and creative with no negative judgment – ideas are recorded but not, at this stage, discussed. As a result, participants are working in a safe and open environment where their ideas are treated with respect and this, in turn, fosters more open and creative thinking.

Talk to us about other Ideation strategies from NoTosh, or try some of these 10 minute activities at your next meeting:

  • ‘Best Ideas, Worst Ideas’: what's the worst possible idea to solve your problem? Is there something ingenious just under the surface of the terrible ideas you generate?
  • Random input creativity: put your finger into the dictionary, and use the next noun you spot as a stimulus for five minutes of ideation.
  • With Crazy Eights, each member of your team places 8 post-it notes on their table. Each person then spends only 40 seconds on each post-it drawing a different solution to your problem. At the end, see which ideas from around the table combine to create new concepts.
  • Forced Morphological Connections can create new ideas from old clothes. Along the top of a table write down all the components that make up the area you're ideating in (location, curriculum, timescale, partners...) and then under each category write all the possible ingredients (e.g. Location: in a classroom, on a boat, in the park, in a car...). Then link one ingredient per category along the line to create a new idea (e.g. a canalboat class that visits a different village every day, using the entrepreneurs in each village to shape a personalised curriculum for our students).
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Ewan McIntosh

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