• Sean Keenan

Let the ideas flow



In theory, ideation should be the easiest part of the design thinking process. All you have to do is simply let your ideas flow till you find something good. As i’m sure almost anyone has experience, it’s never quite that simple. The question is though, why is that?


Ignore Self Doubt


One of the biggest struggles people have when it comes to ideation is self-doubt. Oftentimes people feel their ideas are too impractical and that they don’t have the creativity to think of good ideas. As Yazin Akkawi of inc.com describes though, that’s the furthest thing from the truth


There are many reasons why we, as a society, abandon creative thinking as we enter adulthood. For one, creativity is messy and uncertain; it goes against everything we learn along the way in formal education and through socialization. Creative thinking can be scary because it makes us vulnerable to judgment and can sometimes feel like we're giving up control. That's why many people reassign themselves to the non-creative category -- they repress their creative potential in exchange for structure, conformity and comfort. The notion that individuals are inherently "creative" or "non-creative" is a dangerous one. It implies that only certain people are gifted with creativity, which has been disproved by loads of research, including one study from Northwestern University. The research suggests we give up too easily when confronted with a problem that requires creative thinking. What's more, the research finds the most creative ideas tend to arise after many others have been considered and discarded, proving that the key to creative thought is to just keep at it.

No worthwhile creation is ever the result of one, singular idea. The greatest projects and design out there are the results of hundreds of different ideas, each with varying degrees of usefulness and practicality. By constantly doubting yourself and your ideas, you end up inhibiting many of the truly great ideas from making their way to the surface.


Expanding upon my ideation skills


One of the best ways to try and test/improve your ideation skills is to challenge yourself to certain ideation centered activities. I decided to do the ideou ideation mash up challenge as a way to see how well my ideas flow.

For this task, I articled a challenge in a “How Might We” statement, then listed 15 ideas each for two separate categories. My statement was “How might we improve individuals' sleep hygiene?” with my list relating to subjects being “healthy sleeping habits” and my unrelated list being “Things you would do at a sporting event”.


My ideas and how I choose to mash them up


Once the topics were picked, I mashed them up into a few different ideas. This was actually quite fun, as you had to think pretty outside the box for some of these too actually work. I’d say my favorite idea was the “Lucid Game Pill”. I find lucid dreaming a very interesting concept and have seen the idea of a pill that assists with it floated around. The idea that you can take this pill and almost force yourself in a way to dream about your favorite sports team seemed like an idea I would want to try at least.


Ideation generating is a great strength that everyone has to some degree. By challenging yourself to different kinds of ideating tasks, you can not only improve your ideation abilities, but may even come up with something you didn’t even feel was previously possible.


Full IDEOU Mash Up PDF


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© 2020 by Sean Keenan.