Ideation describes the process of finding ideas. As developing creatively, generating and working out ideas is actually a process, it takes place systematically and is thus a learnable thought pattern. The so-called “flash of inspiration” does not happen by chance, but occurs on the basis of various pieces of information that we have previously examined and collected and now link in a new way. Different contents in new combinations result ideally in new ideas. This process often happens quite incidentally in creative people. The good news is that all people are creative by nature.

From a cognitive perspective, creativity is not a talent, but rather an open mind. Neurons network, set impulses, link different areas in the brain, and as a result, new thought paths emerge. In order to actually generate ideas systematically and to learn these thought patterns, one can start a structured ideation process – alone or in a small team. In essence, this process consists of three essential steps.

The process starts with a briefing on the initial situation. All participants receive or work out the basis for a joint brainstorming session and take a close look at the surrounding factors. Important questions are asked and answered. What are current trends? What are the current technological developments? Which problems come from business and science? Which target groups are relevant and what challenges do they face?

The next step is brainstorming. Here, the participants follow a defined schedule. After a fixed time frame, the results are repeatedly presented and reflected upon in the large group. Good ideas go to the next round, bad ideas go into the archive. In this way, ideas can be further developed and merged across the individual phases. This process is repeated until satisfactory approaches have emerged for all participants. As with any brainstorming session, an open mind is encouraged. Participants detach themselves from reality for a bit and allow for new paths of thought.

Now the most difficult part of the work begins. The previously very rough ideas are transformed into a concept. This process takes most of the time. The more complex and innovative a concept is, the more time has to be invested. If this time is not consciously planned for, the chances of success decrease. A concept can be a research proposal for a new project on the way to the Platform Economy, a new Blockchain-based business model, or a business plan for a spin-off. Many outcomes of and occasions for Ideation are conceivable. Just give it a try.