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Ideation 2: Wow Factor Solutions

Dan D'Souza

Intrapreneurship Associate

Welcome back. We’re glad you followed us through to Part 2. If you’re only just joining us, we’ve been talking about formulating problem statements – and why it’s crucial to start with a problem statement before thinking about suitable solutions (see Part 1: Ideation… How might we?)

By now you’ve probably identified some clear problems to address and, better yet, a specific problem to focus on. The goal here is to use a framework that will allow your team to come up with a pool of focussed ideas, which can then be narrowed down to the best contenders with that elusive ‘wow factor’. It’s worth noting that there are a number of different ways to come up with new ideas but, to start simply, we’ll be using the Brainstorming technique, both simple and effective.

 

Finding a solution to fit the problem

While Brainstorming does not have a single, tried-and-tested methodology, genuine success depends on the observance of eight house rules and someone acting as a facilitator (chances of success are increased in a group situation).  Here are the rules:

    1. Set a time limit – depending on the problem’s complexity, 15–60 minutes is normal.
    2. Begin with the target problem/brief – members should approach this sharply defined question, plan or goal and stay on topic.
    3. Refrain from any judgment/criticism – no-one should be negative (including via body language) about any idea.
    4. Encourage weird and wacky ideas – ban killer phrases like “too expensive” or “that’s silly”. Keep the floodgates open so everyone feels free to shout out ideas, as long as they’re on topic.
    5. Aim for quantity – remember that quantity breeds quality; the sifting-and-sorting process will come later.
    6. Build on others’ ideas – it’s a process of association where members expand on others’ notions and reach new insights, allowing these ideas to trigger their own. Say “and”—rather than discourage with “but”—to get ideas closer to the problem.
    7. Stay visual – diagrams and post-it notes help bring ideas to life and help others see things in different ways.
    8. Allow one conversation at a time – staying on track this way and showing respect for everyone’s ideas is essential for arriving at concrete results.

Filtering the solutions 

If you have followed the rules above and spent some time ideating, you should have a list of ideas – some simple and some fantastical (for our purposes, all are relevant). It’s now necessary to filter the solutions as it’s impossible to pursue all of them. As you consider each one, ask yourself the following questions: 

    1. Will it address the problem?
    2. What does the user/customer think? 
    3. Is it feasible/realistic/legal? 
    4. Is it genuinely novel/new? 
    5. Does it have the “wow factor”?
    6. Is it “more of the same”? 
    7. Does it have additional side benefits? 
    8. Does it align with the plans and values of either your peers, company, or other?

 

Once you have a really compelling problem plus a solution, you are able to write your Solution Statement. Here is a template which will be great for you to fill in. We intend to [Solution] for [user/customer] so that [desired outcome]As an example we have prepared one to show you: We intend to [develop a smart technology, perhaps using machine learning/AI] for [customers who are seeking new work or companies who are looking for the right candidates] so that [they can achieve a candidate/job fit with lower turnover and higher job satisfaction]. This is a statement you can use to articulate your problem and outcome to anyone outside of your team – use it in addition to your problem statement to make sure everyone you are working with is on the same page.

To wrap up, it’s crucial to always begin with a problem. Use a problem statement such as that outlined in Part 1 to help you identify clear problems/frustrations faced by your customers. You’ll find that the problem statement provides a focus as you move through the ideation process. Follow the ideation process using brainstorming in order to generate – and then filter – a number of quality ideas and, finally, construct your solution statement. 

23rd July 2020

Written by Dan D’Souza, Intrapreneurship Associate with collaboration from De-Ann Abraham, Intrapreneurship Co-ordinator alongside the Internal Innovation Team.

If you’d like to find out more about how our approach could benefit your business, please get in touch at hello@lmarks.com.

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