How do you conduct an ideation workshop?
One of the earliest tasks is to find a qualified moderator – almost always a professional from outside your company who has experience running such exercises. Next, in order to obtain the broadest possible feedback, between 8 and 12 members from inside your organization should be invited to participate. They should possess a diversity of traits or characteristics, e.g. gender, age group, management level, job function. In the workshop, all individuals and their ideas should be treated equally, without judgment or bias. Participants may not know each other, and except for their first names, need no further identification.
Participants may be asked to create drawings or simple sketches and place them around the room for others to see and react to. Diagrams may be used to connect and rearrange words, pictures, ideas and concepts. It is important to hear from everyone in an environment where there are no wrong answers or statements.
What should be the outcome of an ideation workshop?
At some point, usually with an hour to 90 minutes, many ideas will have emerged and the pace of new ones will diminish. It should be possible to group them, discuss them, and then evaluate and rank them according to internally agreed upon criteria (e.g. solves a common user problem, is feasible, and can be produced within a reasonable time or cost limit).
Since the goal is to fulfill unmet customer needs and desires, there is really no limit to how many options should be pursued. But from a practical point of view, perhaps just a handful should be further explored in terms of resources required and potential return on investment.
Ultimately, terrific ideas for innovative new products or services that solve problems for your customers will be the outcome.