What Is Ideation and How Can It Benefit Your Organization?

To stay competitive, organizations must innovate new and improved products that deliver real value to customers — and it only takes one innovative idea to generate the next breakthrough product.

However, product innovation isn’t about selecting the first idea that “sounds good” to an organization’s CEO or leadership team.

The key to executing product innovation effectively lies in discovering and evaluating meaningful concepts through ideation.

What Is Ideation?

Ideation is the process of generating fresh ideas that can be transformed into innovative solutions. In the context of product innovation, ideation sets the foundation for everything leading up to product launch.

While there are many ways to approach the ideation process, it generally consists of the following stages:

  • Stage 1 — Idea Generation: Introduce ideas that satisfy the following requirements:
    • Solves a problem or satisfies a need
    • Includes customer insights such as digital analytics, market research, etc.
    • Leverages the organization's core capabilities
  • Stage 2 — Idea Selection: Filter the ideas based on features and functions with the highest probability to satisfy the customers' needs.
  • Stage 3 — Idea Evaluation: Determine the feasibility of transforming your best idea(s) into new or improved products.

Through ideation, organizations can uncover answers to the following product innovation questions:

  • What product does the company want to create?
  • What insights, research, and analytics data support product innovation?
  • What problems can the product solve?
  • How will customers engage with the product?
  • What impact will the product have on customer behavior?

Who Should Attend Ideation Sessions?

The answer to this question depends on the size of your organization and the type of product being considered for development.

However, to come up with the most creative mix of ideas, it's advisable to involve a diverse set of participants.

Potential attendees can include members of your design, development, sales/marketing, customer service, and project management team. External parties you can involve are your customers and third-party vendors that you work with on a regular basis.

Ideation sessions should ideally involve 5 to 10 people and can run from several hours to several days, depending on the complexity of the product.

Should Ideation Sessions be Facilitated by a Third Party?

Facilitation sessions should always be facilitated by someone who can get the best ideas out of everyone while handling disagreements in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, finding an ideation facilitator who can skillfully handle these tasks in an impartial manner can be a challenge in organizations with interdepartmental rivalries.

Third-party facilitation by digital consultants, on the other hand, can provide organizations with an unbiased session that's not driven by departmental agendas.

While it’s important to evaluate a vendor’s ideation process, it’s more important to select an ideation facilitator who is collaborative and acknowledges everyone’s ideas.

After all, participants who trust their ideation facilitator are more likely to share their ideas — and one of those ideas just might lead to your organization’s next breakthrough product.

How does your organization approach ideation? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comment box below!