How to plan a successful ideation workshop?

The right profiles + the right location or digital playground + the right selection of ideation techniques + a clear agenda + a proper onboarding are essential to successful execution.

Photo by Brands&People on Unsplash

This post is part of a series concerning ideation. If you want to get a clear picture of what ideation is, the benefits of ideation, when to use it, what are prior steps before ideating and how to run a successful ideation session check these 3posts 👇🏼

As discussed in the last post “What happens before an ideation workshop?”, problem exploration, refinement, understanding as well as a proper opportunity framing are essential for successful solution development.

Without a clear scope, a clear problem statement, and stakeholder alignment all kinds of ideation will be pointless.

Now, you have done all of that?

Clear scope = Define what are the existing requirements and boundaries for the product from a business perspective; Define the target audience; Define success metrics; Define the competitive landscape; Define a clear problem statement to solve ✅

Alignment of all key stakeholders = A common understanding of the challenge worth solving ✅

What's next?

Not all ideation workshops were created equal.

Depending on the scope, you have to mix and match the number of participants, select diverse profiles, choose the right location or digital playground, and select the most suitable ideation techniques.

👉🏼 Find the right number of participants and profiles.

Ideally, you run such a workshop with min. 4 and max. 10 people. Otherwise, you will have to work with break-out rooms which adds a layer of complexity to the facilitation. The group should be diverse to know what is possible and what the limitations of your capabilities are. It makes sense to mix product managers, brand/marketing people as well as other business functions. Legal & finance might not be necessary for this phase as they might be more relevant when we talk about the feasibility and viability of the concepts developed in the ideation phase.

👉🏼 Organize the teams

If it’s an internal workshop you probably know some of the character traits of the participants and you are able to group them accordingly with balance in mind. In most meetings, it’s always the loudest voices that seem to push the direction, so it’s important that every voice is heard. Make sure someone is there who can help the quieter members share their opinion, and keep your teams as balanced as possible. If you are facilitating a client’s workshop reach out to your client and ask for input. Don’t wait until the session to ask people to self-organize into groups. It takes time and that’s something that’s precious in sprints.

👉🏼 Select the right ideation techniques

You don´t have to reinvent the wheel. There a lot of excellent resources out there 👇🏼

You have to select the right tools based on the current scope of the ideation workshop. Is the scope still pretty broad and you have to widen perspectives first, choose tools such as “opposite thinking” or a “tech & trend matrix” to overcome constraints and mental blockages. If you have a more narrow scope and already know in which direction you are heading techniques such as “analogy thinking” might be the better choice to help you to identify the factors that make other businesses, products, or services successful, and translate them to your business context. As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all solution and it depends on the challenge and the scope of the ideation workshop.

Set the agenda, communicate it to all participants, and onboard everybody correctly

You know why you have chosen the participants, you know the subject matter as you prepared it, but put yourself in the shoes of the participants. Normally it is just one of their many responsibilities to participate in the ideation session. So you have to onboard them as well as possible.

Guide them and keep control of the purpose of the meeting. So, planning out what you’re going to do, as well as the timings for each section, will help to form a successful agenda. Brief your participants with the sprint goal, agenda, tools used and if you want to a preview of the ideation techniques to save a littl bit of time explaining in the sprint.

Prepare your materials and location / Digital playground whiteboard (if you run a remote workshop)

You’ll need Post-Its, pens, dot or star stickers, and large paper such as Flipchart paper if it’s a physical meeting. Break-out areas are good. Failing that, a large meeting room with each pair working in a corner should work.

If you are hosting or facilitating a remote ideation session go for digital whiteboard tools such as MURAL or MIRO (which I personally prefer) to emulate a real-life whiteboard.

There are a lot of templates available so that you don´t need to build them from scratch e.g. Miroverse.

So, your invites are sent, your teams are formed, your agenda is planned and your assets are ready — what now? In the next post, I will explain how to facilitate with empathy, how to do proper timekeeping, use break-out rooms, etc. Want me to keep you posted? 👇🏼

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You want to take action or you need help?

Do you want to carry out an ideation workshop with your team? Do you want to develop concrete concepts and get from vague ideas and opportunities to tangible solution approaches?

👉🏼 Get more information about my Ideation Workshop Service to kickstart your innovation journey or build upon spotted opportunities.

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About Me

About Me

Helping companies with effective strategies and execution for a systematic, user- and growth-centered innovation.

My name is Fabian Roschig and I am a consultant for innovation strategies and innovation management.

My mission is to drive innovation at all levels, based on the individual strengths of each organization, to enable and accelerate sustainable commercial growth. Together we make this happen by setting clear goals, focusing on the right balance between strategy and execution, and using validated, systematic methods and tools that guarantee continuous, measurable results.

For more than 12 years, I have had the privilege to successfully plan, implement or optimize new strategies, products, and services, innovation programs, structures, agile teams as well as processes for a variety of clients and employers such as The Coca-Cola Company, Condor, kicker, Dr. Oetker or TUI. In doing so, I work closely with executive boards, middle management, cross-functional teams, and external service providers.

Helping companies with effective strategies and execution for a systematic, user- and growth-centered innovation.

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