Brainstorming – Best Design Thinking Ideation Tools

Brainstorming - Best Design Thinking Ideation Tools

Design Thinking is a methodology to generate innovative ideas that focuses its effectiveness on understanding and solving the real needs of users.

In the Seventies, Stanford University in California (USA), began to develop it theoretically, being the design consultancy IDEO, the first to apply it for profit as design thinking.

Design Thinking method

This method is developed following a process based mainly on five differential characteristics:

  • The creation of empathy. Satisfying people is key to a successful outcome. To do this you have to observe and understand the problems, needs and desires of the users involved in the solution that we are looking for.
  • Teamwork, because it puts in value the ability of individuals to bring uniqueness.
  • The construction of prototypes, as it argues that any idea must be validated before it is assumed to be correct. The design Thinking allows the identification of faults, so that when the desired solution is found, these have already been solved.
  • Promotion of the playful. It is about enjoying during the process, and thanks to it, reach a state of mind in which the full potential of the person is given free rein. It is important to generate all possible ideas.
  • Use of techniques with visual content and plastic. During the process techniques are developed with a great visual and plastic content-an image is worth a thousand words. This brings the creative and analytical mind to work, resulting in both innovative and feasible solutions.

How to prepare a Design Thinking session

To Start A Design Thinking session it is necessary to form a multidisciplinary team- how much more variety of culture, age, worker profiles…, better-. It is recommended that the workplace be a spacious, bright place, with a large table where all participants can sit and with free walls to hang all ideas.

On top of the work table there must be plenty of material available for the session (papers, markers, glue, cameras…). Surely, some of the techniques will also be developed in other spaces, and many can be outdoors.

A key aspect of Design Thinking Sessions is the attitude of the people who are part of them. It consists of being curious, and observers. In any detail you can find transcendent information. You have to be empathetic, both with people and with their circumstances. Be able to put yourself in each other’s skin.

To question the status quo, and not to be prejudiced. Be optimistic and positive. Lose the fear of being wrong, and see mistakes as opportunities.

The Design Thinking process

The Design Thinking process consists of five phases. It begins with the empathizing phase, but, it is not linear, as you can go back or forward, jumping to non-consecutive stages.

It starts by collecting a lot of information, generating a lot of content, which will grow or decrease depending on the phase in which we are.

1. Empathize

The Design Thinking process begins with an important understanding of the needs of the users involved in the solution being sought, as well as their environment. We must be able to put ourselves in the shoes of these people to be able to generate solutions consistent with their realities.

2. Define

In this phase the information collected during the empathy phase is screened and we must keep what really brings value and leads to the reach of new interesting perspectives.

3. Devise

The ideation stage aims to generate endless options. To create an expansive thought free of value judgments, the environment must be favored. Many times, the most bizarre ideas are those that generate visionary solutions.

4. Prototyping

At this stage ideas become reality. Building prototypes makes the ideas palpable and helps visualize possible solutions, highlighting elements that need to be improved or refined before reaching the final result.

5. Test

During this phase is when prototypes are tested with the users involved in the solution that we are developing. This phase is crucial, and helps to identify significant improvements, failures to resolve, potential gaps. It is at this stage that the idea evolves into the solution that was being sought.

How to do brainstorming: the basis of ideation

In this post we will focus a little more on the third phase, on ideation.

Brainstorming is a group technique used to generate original ideas in a relaxed atmosphere. It is a meeting that employs a moderator and a procedure to favor the generation of ideas-always thinking that the production of ideas in Group can be more effective than individually. At first no idea should be rejected, all are valid, but do all group dynamics have to give good results?

Experts recommend that a brainstorming team be made up of between 10 and 18 people, because if the participants are few they will not be able to generate enough ideas, but if they are excessive they may lose the reason why the session is being held.

To make a productive brainstorming session should follow some guidelines:

  • Log in with a thorough statement of the identified need or problem that you want to solve.
  • Clarify the rules that will govern the session, such as that there is only one conversation at a time or that criticism of ideas will be made at the end of the session and not during it, no matter how many ideas each contributes, even if they seem crazy, that respect for ideas is fundamental, etc.
  • A technique to write down ideas can be that of post it. That is, write them down in a few words and put them in a place where everyone can see them, like on a chalkboard.
  • If the session is done to solve a problem, you must prepare with an immersion exercise that is related to the problem to be solved. For example, with a debate with customers, with a way out, etc.

The criteria for the selection of ideas that have emerged in the session are:

  • Choose among those most likely to succeed.
  • Which can produce greater customer satisfaction.
  • The most innovative.

There are versions of brainstorming:

  • Brainwriting, in which ideas are put in writing“ ” writing ideas”.
  • Drawstorming, where brainstorming is done through drawings.

Being a great generator of Innovation, Design Thinking can be applied to any field. From the development of products or services to the improvement of processes or the definition of business models. Companies like Apple, Google or Zara use this methodology… and the results are not bad.