Ideation refers to the production of new ideas that have a bearing on the identification and resolution of a Problem.
Four main methods are examined as assisting towards Ideation:
- Brainstorming (free-association)
- Synectics (analogical association)
- Challenging (fruitful opposition)
- Morphological Approach (decomposition/composition)
Brainstorming is a way of generating ideas, in a group, on a specific theme, by free-association.
Association can be triggered by:
- contiguity (e.g. next to, before and after, cause and effect, etc.)
- similarity (e.g. same as, common to, etc.)
- contrast (e.g. unlike what, different from, opposite to, etc.)
Brainstorming is characterized by three main aspects:
1) elicitation/production of ideas by free-association (free-wheeling)
2) circulation/acceptance of any idea by positive attitude (free-playing, deferment of judgement)
3) selection/combination of ideas (parts, whole) for refinement and with a view to further generation of ideas
Synectics is based on the systematic use of analogies for the generation of ideas.
Analogies can be:
- Personal (identify yourself with the elements of the problem)
- Direct (apply solutions taken from other fields, e.g. natural world)
- Symbolic (play with images, e.g. metaphors)
- Fantastic (express wishes, desires, fantasies in pursuit of a solution)
Synectics is characterized by two contrasting dynamics:
a) Making the strange familiar : compare/associate strange phenomena to familiar ones
b) Making the familiar strange : see/approach common phenomena under a new light and from an unusual perspective
Challenging (Why? Why? Why?) is a way of pushing towards a reformulation of an idea by subjecting it to strong opposing views with the aim of either reinforcing or replacing the original idea.
Challenging can refer to:
- assumptions (counter-views)
- specifications (counter-requirements)
- solutions (counter-proposals)
For challenging to be carried out effectively, an Idea Log Book should be kept at hand for jotting down hunches, hints, alternatives, unconventional thoughts, etc.
Morphological Approach (^)
A Morphological Approach ('mince and mix') is a way of generating ideas by decomposing a problem into sub-problems and listing, in a matrix, all the factors pertaining to it [mince].
Each possible combination (of factors in a sub-problem; of sub- problems in a problem) represents the basis for the generation of new ideas [mix].
- Break the problem down into independent sub-problems
- Break the sub-problem down into factors
- Combine factors for possible solutions to each sub-problem
- Give a score to each sub-problem solution
- Construct general/total solutions from combinable sub-solutions
- Give a score to each total solution
- Select the total solution with the highest score
Ideation : summing up (^)
Ideation is a process of:
- Deriving ideas through free-association and analogies
- Challenging conventional ideas
- Combining simple elements into new ideas
The Generation of ideas is strictly linked (before and after) with the Visualization of ideas.
Before : a good visualization allows for the neat formulation of a Problem and could lead to its solution.
After : the solution of a Problem, in order to circulate and be widely shared, needs good visualization.
All this is the task of Visualizing.