Tips for Teams: Idea Generation

By: Tina Shaffer

Idea generation tools are essential to discovering a great solution to your team’s Challenge. They’re also a significant part of the creative process—specifically the steps of Imagining, Initiating and Collaborating —which your team will use to explore new ideas, take risks and collaborate on your project.

Our Roadmap resource (available in the printed Program Materials as well as the Resource Area) includes helpful idea generation tools. And whether you’re just starting out or are a part of a veteran DI team, it’s important for you to understand those concepts and incorporate them into your team’s idea generating session. This will help your team further develop the best ideas for your Challenge solution.

Quick Tip: Before you begin your generating session, create a comfortable environment. When team members are comfortable, everyone can feel more free to unleash their creative genius and express any and all possible ideas for a Challenge solution. In addition, remind your team members that you’re all there to have fun and to think of as many creative ideas as possible.

Defer judgment
Nothing smothers energy and creativity faster in a room than judgment. Whether it’s a sharp critical remark or harsh laughter, when you criticize a team member’s idea it shows your inflexibility and can make him or her become more concerned with defending ideas rather than creating them. To encourage a flow of ideas, make sure no judgmental attitudes are present. This also counts for self-judgment. Commit yourself to developing your creativity and stay positive. Don’t stifle your ideas.

Record all ideas
Designate one person—preferably your Team Manager—to record all ideas presented at your meeting. Since it’s hard to contribute to the idea generation process when you’re recording, having your Team Manger take on this responsibility will allow you and your team members to better generate a steady flow of ideas.

Strive for quantity
The creative problem-solving process relies heavily on the concept of quantity over quality. If there is a large number of ideas to be considered, the chance of finding a unique, powerhouse solution for your Challenge is greater. Also, don’t stop to evaluate any ideas, regardless of whether or not they seem practical or impractical. You will have plenty of time to revisit and dissect your ideas after your generating meeting.

Use your imagination to be playful and embrace wild and exaggerated ideas. Placing a premium on that which initially appears too far out encourages team members to expand their thinking. Also, if you reject a specific idea because it seems too silly or improbable, you may miss something truly brilliant.

Hitchhike on the ideas of others
One of the biggest benefits of generating as a team is the ability to use other team members’ ideas to create new ones. By learning how to be a good listener, you can alter, build on or combine original ideas to produce a new, great idea. When you combine two or more ideas, the possibilities for new ideas become endless!

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