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Introduction to Ideation

Lets talk about Ideation and how it can be done creatively and deeply to solve challanges
Ideation defined

Stage 3 – Ideation

Ideation is the third stage of the Design Thinking process. In this stage we brainstorm solutions to our challenge – to the “pains and gains” and the “non-human persona” generated in the design stage. We could choose to ease the pains, or we could accentuate the gains.

The Ideation stage is a divergent stage, whakaaro whānui (meaning to think broadly). This means that not only do we explore straightforward ideas but we also explore the fantastical and the absurd – because if we understand the qualities that make these an idea then these may act as launching pads to new ideas that may be able to be implemented.

The ideation stage is a visual stage. We sketch to help show our ideas, as this is the best way to show other people. If I say “gondola” then everyone pictures it differently. Maybe its a boat on the river – or maybe its a type of ski lift. By sketching the gondola and labelling it means that everyone can see the vision I have (and maybe my “gondola” has different features from a normal gondola). You don’t have to be an artist – simple sketches consist of stickmen, rectangles and labels.

A common saying is “if the problem was easy it would already be solved”. This is why it is important to create a range of ideas as it is seldom that the first idea generated is the best.

What is an Idea

Going wide isn’t the only challenge in the ideation phase. Another challenge is to understand what an idea actually is.

Ideas are clear short sentences which can be imagined and actioned if we had the resources. They create a clear picture in the readers head – even if they aren’t quite feasible yet. e.g. Put a sieve in the river and replace it everyday. When the water goes through the sieve chemicals will take out the river pollutants (it may not be a great idea, but it is still an idea).

We do not want “ideals or outcomes”. e.g. make the river sustainable doesn’t tell me how it could be sustainable so it isn’t an idea.

There are many ways to ideate: brainstorming, what if, figurestorming, heuristic or crazy 8’s. We’ll share a few of these in the next step.


Firstly we need to choose the most relevant Pains and Gains to ideate on. Remind yourself of the pains and gains (and the non-human persona) and choose which you think are the most important (and why).

Post which you think is the most important in the comments section.

If you are carrying out your own challenge, then settle on the top 5 pains and top 2 gains to ideate on. Some questions to ask yourself: Which are the most interesting? Which are the most achievable? Which would create the most impact if it was solved?

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