Ideation can also help in the context of a dissertation process. In the search for a suitable topic, an idea for a paper, or in the development of concrete research questions – many scenarios are conceivable. We have compiled ten tips for a suitable approach.

1.everyone is creative by nature.

Developing creatively and generating ideas is actually a structured process. The so-called “flash of inspiration” does not happen by chance, but occurs as a result of various pieces of information that we have previously sifted through and collected and are now linking in a new way. 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 pathways emerge. The good news is that this means we are all creative by nature. So don’t be afraid and just get started.

2.create a good starting point!

In order to actually generate ideas systematically and to learn these thought patterns, you can start a structured ideation process. Take a close look at the surrounding factors and summarize your starting situation. Possible questions you might ask yourself are: What are the problems coming from business and academia? What are current trends? What are the current technological developments? Which target groups are relevant and what challenges do they face? On this basis, you will create a briefing. This way you have a concrete overview and everyone involved in the process is picked up.

3. Open collection of ideas and approaches

Based on the briefing, you now start an open association process. Here you can use paper and pencil or a shared digital whiteboard. You can also record your collection with icons or smaller drawings, because visual representations create understanding more quickly.

4. I make the world as I like it!

Leave rules and norms out of the equation and enjoy detaching yourself from reality a bit. Who would’ve expected the smartphone to change the world to such a large extent, although it is nothing more than a tiny computer? So don’t immediately discard all ideas because you are thinking about what is not possible. This is how you can uncover the best research gaps and actually add innovative value.

5. Ideation is an iterative brainstorming process.

Ideation follows a defined schedule. After fixed time frames, the results are presented and reflected on again and again. The good approaches go to the next phase, the bad ones are dropped. 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.

6. brainstorming can take place in a small group or alone.

Ideation is a process that can be done alone. Creative people often go through this process casually and so quickly that you think it is a flash of inspiration. However, for many it works better in a small group. Only in large groups, ideation does not work, these would then have to be divided into smaller groups.

7. scaling ideas.

Now the most difficult part of the work begins. The so far still very rough ideas are transferred into a concept. A concept can be a research proposal, the structure of the dissertation, an overview of the research questions, a procedure model, a scientific paper or much more. Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Your ideas are elaborated and are no longer just ideas, but approaches to solutions and concrete plans. The little offspring grows into a plant. You set concrete timetables and measurable goals, write them down, back them up with sources and check their feasibility.

8.Don’t underestimate time investment.

Scaling takes the most time. The more complex and innovative a concept is, the more time must be invested. If this time is not deliberately planned for, your chances of success will decrease. There are many ideas, but only those that are really thought out in a structured way can be implemented.

9. Avoid know-it-alls.

Now you’ve turned those great ideas into a concept, you’re full of drive, and there they show up, the naggers and the know-it-alls. Ideation is iterative and critical questioning is always useful in science. Sparring partners are important. But: Make sure you have the right contacts. Not all impulses from outside are useful or important. You are working on something new – something that did not exist before. So why should everyone else be experts on your concept?

10. Practice makes perfect.

Ideation is a thought pattern. With everything you learn, practice makes perfect. Accordingly, you should enter the ideation process again and again. This is the only way your brain can memorize the thought pattern and only in this way can supposed “flashes of inspiration” arise.

Now go and start your ideation process!