5 Ideation techniques to spark innovation

If you are looking for new ways to come up with great ideas quickly, you are in the right place. Here are our top suggestions to get you started.

Participant sticks post-it to whiteboard during Creative HQ's workshop

Ideation is a process in which you create a large number of diverse ideas, with the intention of quantity over quality. Common techniques include mind mapping, storyboarding and brainstorming, but sometimes using the same methods over and over again can stifle creativity.

You can use ideation techniques anytime you are trying to come up with new and creative solutions. Some of the most common uses: 

  • launching a new product or service
  • planning your next marketing campaign
  • looking for solutions to any problem
  • organising a new event

Below are 5 ideation techniques that you can use to expand your thinking and spark inspiration.


Crazy 8

We often use the Crazy 8 technique in Design Sprints. It’s an easy and fast exercise aimed at pushing people past their first idea.

Time: 8 minutes

Tools: Pen, pencil, or crayon (whatever you can draw with!) some paper and a timer

How it works

Follow these 3 easy steps.

  1. Grab an A4 piece of paper, fold it in half, half again, and one more time – you now have 8 boxes!
  2. Set the timer for 8 minutes.
  3. You now have 8 minutes to create a different idea in each of those boxes. 1 minute per box, so get sketching!

You can do multiple iterations with this one. Take your favourite concept from the first 8, and do another 8 minutes based on that idea.

Eliminate constraints

When generating ideas, we automatically consider constraints and limitations – this deters our idea generation. Remove some of these constraints and foster wider thinking.

Time: 15-20 minutes

Tools: Pen, pencil, paper and some post-its

How it works

Ask yourself questions such as “What if money was no issue? What could we achieve?” Or even something more novel, “What if gravity suddenly disappeared? How would this affect our business?”.

These types of questions can encourage creative innovation, and some of these unreal ideas can be adapted into something feasible for the real world.

Negative brainstorming

That idea isn’t bad enough” is what you want to hear during negative brainstorming.

This is a great method for those who aren’t as confident in expressing or sharing their ideas. By inverting the brainstorming you’re relieving the pressure for good ideas.

Time: 20 minutes

Tools: Pen, pencil, paper and post-its

How it works

Start by taking your problem statement and saying the opposite instead. For example, “We want to increase the attendance for our events.” will be turned into “How do we decrease the attendance for our events?”

Then get to writing down bad ideas for that new problem statement. For example:

“Make it exclusive and expensive.”
“Don’t promote the event beforehand.”

Once you’ve filled up a page, or a few post-its, ask yourself, “Now why are these bad ideas?” 

The reason why making the event exclusive and expensive will decrease attendance is because a large part of our audience are university students, the majority of whom do not have the financial means for big purchases.

Then with this statement, start brainstorming solutions that could help solve the problem:

To increase the attendance from professionals as well as students, we can implement a special student discount to encourage their attendance and make our events more accessible.

Interested in learning more about Ideation? Check out our Certificate in Applied Innovation workshops.

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