Warming up before working out. Studying to prepare for a test. Measuring ingredients before beginning a recipe. In the same way advance preparation makes working out, taking a test, or cooking a meal easier, ideation goes more smoothly and moves more quickly when you decide a few things before diving in. For a successful ideation session, consider these elements ahead of time:
What's your purpose? You need to have a clearly defined purpose. This can be wide open, or very specific. As long as you have clearly defined it and everyone on your team is on board, you can work toward your common goal.
Who needs to be at the table? It’s worth the time and energy to put careful thought into who you involve in an ideation session. You need to have a healthy mix of pie-in-the-sky creative thinkers, pragmatic problem-solvers, and a wild card or two.
Can you find someone who knows creative process and can be an objective facilitator? Finding a person who knows how to lead a creativity session, can keep the process moving, and will ensure you get the output you need—all without being biased by their own feelings or opinions—can be tricky. Maybe you already have someone on your team who fits the bill—or maybe an outside expert can help turn creative chaos into strategic momentum.
How are you going to measure success? Do you need piles of ideas, BASES-ready concepts, or something in between? Defining this clearly ahead of time will help you focus your ideation input into output that gets you where you need to be.
Who is your ultimate decision-maker? In Ideas To Go projects, we call this person the capital-c Client. Though ideation can be a very productive group activity, you aren’t going to have success if you try to come to consensus on everything. There needs to be one person who has ultimate decision-making power, or your group can easily spend too much time negotiating decisions and not enough time coming up with great ideas.
They might not be easy questions to answer, but if you have these 5 decisions already made at the start of your session, pat yourself on the back—you're getting started on the right foot. Happy ideating!