Moshe Bar’s research concluded that “the mind’s natural tendency is to explore and to favor novelty, but when occupied it looks for the most familiar and inevitably least interesting solution”. Not many of us will find time for a weeks-long silent retreat, but perhaps we should be cognizant of the fact that overthinking, or “loading”, will hamper your creativity.
“To find ideas, find problems. To find problems, talk to people.” This neat piece of advice comes from Julie Zhuo who uses time home with family and friends to unearth ideas. Simply by asking people she knows about the most challenging part of their jobs she can identify serious pain points that can be solved with new ideas.
IDEO is possibly the most respected firm in the business of building products in the world. And they have created a worksheet with a guide to help you run product ideation workshops with your team. Central to the strategy is to mash up ideas that you’ve come up with for different industries or markets to create an entirely new list of novel ideas and applications.
We’re big fans of SPRINT, the book recently published by the product design folks at Google Ventures (now simply called GV). Described in it is a structured process to brainstorm, test concepts and answer critical business questions during a one to five day period. Nadav Rikover had the opportunity to take part in a workshop held on Google’s campus and has put together a nice overview of what a sprint looks like from start to finish. If you have completed a sprint yourself, we’d love to hear your story.
Referencing the same path as Mumaw from obvious relevant ideas to crazy novel ideas, Christina Wodtke outlines some more tools for conducting product ideation sessions. This includes Freelisting which helps introverts participate and the Value Proposition Canvas for finding pains, gains, and solutions. There’s also a part one.
For those of you who are immediately turned off by the prospect of talking ideation because of your own perceived lack of creativity, watch this video now. Stefan Mumaw believes that we are all creative, and furthermore, we can get better at being creative. Creativity is merely an ability to problem solve with relevance and novelty. For those who participate in product ideation brainstorms, he posits that we should ‘get to stupid quicker’, moving on from obvious ideas and to a stage when a supposed stupid suggestion unlocks a wave of valuable out-there ideas.