4.2 Idea Generation

The creative process of generating, developing, and communicating new ideas.


Idea generation is all about gathering new ideas. At this stage, the goal is to be creative and to come up with as many ideas as possible. In order for creativity to bloom, skepticism and critique are put aside. The aim is to open up for all new thoughts, think outside the box, and search for new alternatives. No idea is stupid at this point !

The following techniques can be applied to generate new ideas:

4.2.1 Idea generation techniques

  • Role play:
    This technique encourages you to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. What do you think another person would think about a certain product/problem. This process is aided by a sequence of questions helping the user to put you into another situation and to see things from another person’s perspective.
  • Brainstorming:
    Brainstorming is a group creativity technique in which a group tries to find a solution for a specific problem by amassing a list of ideas spontaneously contributed by its members.  A good facilitator, who sparks the energy, is key to a successful brainstorming session.

Brainstorming rules:

  • One Conversation at a Time
  • Encourage Wild Ideas
  • Go for Quantity
  • Be Visual
  • Stay on Topic
  • Build on the Ideas of Others
  • Defer Judgment – NO Blocking
  • Wishful thinking:
    What do you wish for? What do you find appealing?  The intention with this technique is to identify/ imagine the perfect solution/ scenario/ product. Once it has been described, analyze whether it is feasible or not.
  • Find the trends and consult with experts

Talk to people who lead that trend in terms of experience and intensity of need.   New ideas come to the fore by looking for inspiration from the following sources.

  • External sources:
    customers; focus groups with consumers; competitors; suppliers; acquisitions; trade fairs and conventions; published information; trade magazines; outside consultants; universities; government; law/regulations.
  • Internal sources:
    internal R&D; employees; shelved ideas; complaints systems; customer service; sales representatives.
  • Forced attribute:
    This is a divergent technique. It pushes you out of the problem. The user has to think of a given object (randomly provided) and write down its attributes. Once those attributes are listed, remove the object and use the list to solve the problem at hand.


4.2.2 Random Words and Random Pictures

Random words and random pictures are two creativity techniques that push you to think from a different perspective and reach solutions to your problems from new directions. Before you use this technique you should define the problem. It should be formulated as a question, be concise and short (8-10 words), and only solve one problem at the time. The intention of the technique is to take you out of the problem itself; hence, random words and pictures will help in this process. They consist of defining a problem, then associating randomly generated words or pictures to this problem, make associations and reach a new comprehension that stimulates a solution to the problem, or generates a new way of doing things.

Random pictures may create an association, which help you solve a problem or generate ideas for new ways of doing things. Define your problem and select any random picture. Look at the picture, be inspired and think about how the picture relates to your problem. Write down all associations and let the creative process be iterative. There are no wrong or right answers, all ideas are valid.


4.2.3 Scamper Techniques

The SCAMPER technique forces out-of-the-box thinking, using a set of directed, challenging questions to suggest additions to, or modifications of what already exists. The stimulus comes from questions that one would not normally ask.

SCAMPER is the acronym of:

S = Substitute: You are invited to think about replacing the product or process with something else. Replacements can give you new ideas. In the exercise it is allowed to change things, places, procedures, people, ideas, and even emotions.

C = Combine: You are invited to think about ways of mingling two or more existing products or processes or to improve their synergy.

A = Adapt: You are invited to alter what is already there (e.g. own products).

M = Modify, Magnify: You are invited to magnify or exaggerate your product or parts of it. By doing so it will increase its perceived value or give you new insights about what components/ingredients are most important.

P = Purpose, Put to other uses: You are invited to think whether your product can be used differently, re-used to solve the question.

E = Eliminate: You are invited to remove parts/ingredients (or minimized parts) or the whole product. You are invited to simplify, reduce or remove components, so that you end up with the most important function.

R = Reverse or rearrange: You are invited to think what would happen if your process and/or product would work in reverse or were done in a different order than the current one.


http://litemind.com/scamper-tool/ Provides random SCAMPER questions and trigger words

http://litemind.com/scamper/ Provides a set with almost 60 SCAMPER questions by section with the corresponding trigger words.







LLP/LdV/TOI/2011/IRL-502 This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. The author is solely responsible for this publication (communication) and the Commission accepts no responsibility for any use may be made of the information contained therein.