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Design Thinking: Ideation

In another chapter of the series on Design Thinking applied to internal communications, we will discuss the ideation stage.

The Ideation Stage

This is the third stage of the process, in which ideas begin to take shape. Based on the information gathered during previous stages, the idea is to start to “think outside of the box” in order to come up with innovative solutions and alternatives to address problems. The better we understand and define the problems, the better the results.

Again, collaboration is key at this stage of the process. The team is organized into groups representing the parties involved in the issues, thus guaranteeing that all experiences and perspectives are considered. In our case, the participants of the workshop were developers, PMs, TLs, HR, and even partners. To ensure good results at the ideation stage, an unprejudiced exchange of ideas should be promoted, where all participants feel equal to contribute.

“Ideation is the mode of the design process in which you concentrate on idea generation. Mentally, it represents a process of ‘going wide’ in terms of concepts and outcomes. Ideation provides both the fuel and also the source material for building prototypes and getting innovative solutions into the hands of your users.”, An Introduction to Design Thinking – Process Guide

Techniques for the Ideation Stage

There are various techniques to devise new ideas or solutions. The most popular is brainstorming, but there are also methods like voting, affinity map and How might we, among others.

The Interaction Design Foundation is an educational platform that seeks to raise the level of design education globally through the democratization of learning in communities over 90 countries. According to them, ideation helps to:

  • Ask the right questions and innovate with a strong focus on your users, their needs, and your insights about them.
  • Step beyond the obvious solutions and therefore increase the innovation potential of your solution.
  • Bring together perspectives and strengths of your team members.
  • Uncover unexpected areas of innovation.
  • Create volume and variety in your innovation options.
  • Get obvious solutions out of your heads, and drive your team beyond them.

Our Experience in Internal Communications

In relation to our experience at intive-FDV, we wanted to explore four issues with the 5 whys technique. The aim was to find the root cause of the issues. It was important to try to avoid previous assumptions over the issues or their possible cause, and also to avoid a superficial analysis of them.

In order to enable a comprehensive approach involving all members of the collaborative workshop, we suggested to rotate groups after the first “why”, so that every group could give one reason for each issue. When the round was completed, we discussed the proposed solutions.

Once the collaborative workshop concluded, we got together with members of the Internal Communications team to analyze, classify and prioritize solutions based on their points in common. We recognized points in common among the proposed solutions, so we grouped the initial four issues into two broader categories: project organization and career plan. Then, the solutions were transformed into concrete actions and global strategies.

The Value of the Ideation Stage

By identifying what the true issue is, the ideation stage not only allows us to devise a solution but to find the best one out there, that will be unfolded in the next stages when it’s carried out and tested by users.

In our experiment, we found different solutions, from simple ones —such as offering the company the organization chart, explaining the seniority network and how it impacts on career plans, or doing integration activities, like a breakfast or lunch with the Operations Manager, to more complex ones that involve a strategy —like creating an Open Space with the current projects, organizing external events to integrate teams, among others.

We are currently implementing and testing these possible solutions, and soon we will tell you all about that. We hope to find you reading the next chapter in this challenging series.

Eugenia Torres

Eugenia Torres is a UX designer at intive-FDV since April 2018. Graphic designer graduated from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), she is currently attending a specialization course on Design Thinking at the University of Palermo (UP). Travel fanatic, she enjoys not only the journeys themselves but the organization in advance and the remembrance through her photos and diaries. The one to blame? Jules Verne, whom she read with fascination as a girl. Her biggest dream? Since she saw Indy in The Last Crusade: to meet Petra.

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