The only constant is change. Businesses know that innovation is crucial to staying ahead of competition and are under more pressure than ever to generate new ideas. The process of cultivating a culture of innovation can be tricky; it’s easy to lean on concepts from the past or settle into familiar ruts. What can organizations do to ensure their ideation workshops generate fresh, targeted, effective ideas to solve problems and improve products?

The Best Business Ideas are Home Grown

The ideation process can be daunting and a consequence of the effort to think “big” is often missing one of the most important resources available to organizations: the employees. Not only is it a large part of their day-to-day work to generate new ideas about the products they manage but they have a deep understanding of target customers. For this reason, idea generation begins with a series of workshops. Ideation workshops provide an opportunity for key stakeholders to generate, develop and communicate new ideas that directly impact the bottom line.

Ideation Workshops: The Checklist

  • Appoint an Objective Facilitator

Seek out facilitators who don’t have a stake in the outcome but rather, whose mission it is to help the group accomplish the goal.

  • Establish Clear Goals

Make sure the participants understand the business objective and customer needs that the product should address. This will allow for an organized discussion about the state of the current product and how issues should be addressed.

  • Before You Think Outside the Box, Know What it Looks Like

It’s important to keep things loose during idea generation sessions but not having structure can lead to a less efficient use of workshop time. Also, participants are often left guessing about what the expectations and outcomes should be. What is your company’s actual criteria for making these decisions or solving problems?

  • Don’t Brainstorm from 30,000 Feet

 While it’s important to include high-level employees in your workshop, real solutions only fix real problems. Make sure to include employees and stakeholders that touch all phases of product development because they can often reveal previously unknown issues with the product. Even more, include employees that have deep insight into specific feedback from target customers that may illuminate ways to improve existing product or service features.

  • Solicit Actual Solutions from Participants

Encourage the groups to list and share potential solutions for the problems they identify during the brainstorming session.

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