Ideation tends to be more structured than brainstorming sessions. This structure includes pre-ideation session research, highly focused objectives and a variety of in-session techniques to generate more ideas, and in particular more on-target ideas. The pre-session research would focus on the problem to be solved and would result in a general overview of existing solutions and any gaps in existing patent portfolios. Typically, this would include competitive assessments, state-of-the-art searches in related technology areas, and patent landscapes.
Consumer research is also essential to have a clear picture of what consumers are looking for. Effective new product development takes into account market and technical factors.
The facilitated ideation session does not have to be a long meeting lasting hours or even days. It is preferable to have a focused session or have a small number of short sessions. Effective ideation sessions include:
- A diverse group of participants (project team members, members who represent the client’s interests, others who represent consumer perspectives)
- Clearly stated objectives
- Summary of research
- Warm-up activity to encourage communication
- Time to generate ideas that address the objective
- Select and work in small groups to develop ideas: level of innovation, hurdles, consumer impact, effort to develop it, KPIs, etc.
- Small groups should be multidisciplinary (one project team member, a client representative, a consumer representative and others)
- Presentation and refinement
- Satisfaction and accomplishment
With facilitation, ideation sessions can be highly successful, productive and enjoyable experiences.
To gain the greatest benefit from an ideation session, a review of the most promising ideas should include patent analysis. Patent searches early in the innovation process prevent losing time on ideas that may be blocked by competitor patents. They also indicate the level of novelty of the ideas and facilitate decisions as to whether patent protection should be sought.