Looking to create a spark in your ideation process or have a special tool to guide your team to innovative ideas? Check out these brilliant products and make-shift methods to get you and your team generating out-of-the-box ideas! Ideation can be quite difficult and mundane using historical methods, and these will most likely lead to limited new ideas – not the disruption you’re seeking!
NOTE: These are tools I find extraordinarily helpful and regularly recommend in breaking teams out of their comfort zone to generate break through ideas.
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Disruptus Brainstorming Tool
A brilliant card game with 100s of cards containing images of seemingly everyday products. Use this tool by defining your challenge, and then draw a card and ask: How Might We combine this item with our idea or use this item to produce this function? Its a stretch supersize designed to get the creative juices flowing. It also works great as an ice-breaker to kick off a workshop, or to wake people up after lunch.
The Time Timer
An absolute must have for meetings, problem solving, and brainstorming sessions. The time timer reduces the desire of attendees to check their phone or open those computer to check the time, just to be distracted by unread emails and texts. Simply set how long you intend to spend on a module, and the clock communicates the remaining time in a simple and non-distracting way.
The Idea Book
Book + Notebook = Idea Book!
There’s a reason this item is listed under “Recommended Readings“, and that’s because it is just as much an activity as it is a book. With dozens of creativity tools and techniques, this resource can keep you going for a while! (Plus you have blank pages to write your ideas!)
Great tool if you’re working with people who like to build things. Some people think in their heads, some people think with their mouths, and some think with their hands. For the folks who think with their hands, they will generate the best ideas when then can fiddle or build something. Combine this game with various craft supplies, things from nature, and basic tools (tape, scissors, hot glue gun) – and you will have an exciting combination!
General Prototyping Supplies
An important part of any new product development is iterating after receiving customer feedback, and we want to receive this feedback as quickly as possible! One way to receive quick feedback is via developing a low-fidelity prototype out of simple craft supplies, trash, and pieces of nature (rocks, sticks, leaves). Developing a low fidelity prototype is also a great way for the team to get on the same page for fit, form, and function of the new product (This will be your first iteration).
The above linked kit is a great all-in-one set to get any prototyping activity started. Add in some pieces of nature (and maybe scrounge through the trash – be scrappy!), you will accelerate your development in no time!
Back to the Basics – Sticky Notes & Markers
No workshop is complete without sharpies and stickies. Everyone has their personal preference on sticky note size, but the standard 3″ x 3″ or 3″ x 5″ work well. It is also recommended to use thick markers, like white board markers or sharpies, for recording ideas. This forces your innovators to write clearly and succinctly – we don’t want to time and energy by writing out a detailed war story on every idea (Do that later). If all goes well, you should use up A LOT of sticky notes.
Toy Box is a method where thinkers play with and examine different objects like wood, 3D printed parts, toys, and other tools shown above to generate ideas!
This is a very simple, effective, and impromptu way to incite ideation. Some innovators think very effectively while fiddling and manipulating or examining various objects. What this method involves is gathering assorted toys, objects, tools, nature, etc. to place in a box. Dump the box out on table and begin to ask the team probing questions related to your challenge while randomly referencing and passing around various items. (Maybe use the “How Might We…” tool)
The team will connect dots spurred from interacting with these materials to generate novel ideas! I always include items from nature and a few simple items like a brick, paint brush, or a nail.