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Recognising barriers to ideation

Review and identify ways to overcome barriers to ideation - the approach depends on who we’re working with and the context of the ideation.

Ideation is the practice of generating, producing, visualising, and communicating ideas in an effective and meaningful way to shareholders, colleagues, or interested parties.

Ideation can be difficult for some, depending on our preferences for divergent and convergent thinking. It’s often not just a matter of clicking the switch and letting the great ideas flow. There are numerous barriers or obstacles that we – or our team members – might need to overcome. I have created a list (not exhaustive) of some and hope you can add a few more to it. These aren’t in any specific order but are simply a list of barriers that you may need to confront and pull down in order to give your team the best possible opportunity or environment to be highly creative.

You’ll find the list as a downloadable document. Download it and view it before proceeding – and consider printing it out as a visual reminder for when you ideate with your team!

Review and identify ways to overcome barriers

The way we overcome barriers to ideation depends on who we’re working with and the context of the ideation.

Take another look through the list and think about each item in the context of your team. I bet there are a few that stick out to you and make you think, “Ah yes, I can see that being an issue in my team”, or maybe even, “Yes, I can see that being an issue for me”.

Let’s work together on overcoming those barriers.

  1. I want you to identify three barriers from the list that you identify with – that are likely to be an issue in your team or for yourself.
  2. Then, think about why these might be barriers to ideation.

    a. How might they affect people’s ability to create ideas in the first place (divergent thinking)?

    b. How might they affect people’s ability to refine and judge the merits of ideas (convergent thinking)?

  3. Next, identify one thing you could do that might help you or your team members to overcome each of your three barriers. For example, if you think you have a few team members who are ‘too serious’ or ‘boring’, then could you help loosen them up with a fun icebreaker idea? For example, one thing I like to do is to start an ideation session with the ‘worst possible idea’, which is where people are invited to come up with the worst way to respond to our problem statement. Why? Because it gives people a good laugh as we go through our ideas, opens up people’s creativity, and helps us to understand why some ideas might not be so great.
  4. Share your work in the comments. In your post, share:

    a. the three barriers you’ve chosen

    b. how these barriers might affect ideation (ie why they’re barriers)

    c. what you could do to overcome each.

  5. Finally, read the comments of others and make a note of any posts that resonate with you and make you think, “Oh that’s a good idea, I can use that with my team!”.
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