Now that you have gone through the Empathise and Define Modes in the design thinking process, you'll now focus on generating multiple alternatives to solve your design challenge. It's important to note that Design Thinking is a non-linear process and as such you might encounter overlaps between the ideation and define stages. Notwithstanding this overlap, the insights garnered from both stages can be resourceful to steer the generation of a repository of ideas, design concepts, and solutions to address your design challenge.
“Ideate 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.” Stanford d.school An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE
Ideation is crucial to transition from understanding your customers and identifying their problems, to create solutions that satisfy their needs. This is the opportune time to leverage your understanding of your customers and the problem space and conceive a broad pool of novel and “disruptive” solutions that will change their lives. As Aurora Harley explains in Ideation for Everyday Design Challenges, your goal is to explore or generate a broad pool of ideas, “with no attempt to judge or evaluate them.”
At this stage, your aim is to discover new angles and unearth unpredicted areas for innovation while suspending judgment. In essence, you're thinking outside the box, to drive innovation for your solution concepts. Moreover, your focus is more on quantity and not the quality of your ideas. Later, you'll determine the best solution through customer evaluation and -feedback. Furthermore, in the ideate mode, you want to go beyond “obvious” design concepts. By doing this, you'll achieve the following.
Stanford d.school explains the following as you begin the process of ideation.
"You ideate by combining your conscious and unconscious mind, and rational thoughts with imagination. For example, in a brainstorm you leverage the synergy of the group to reach new ideas by building on others’ ideas. Adding constraints, surrounding yourself with inspiring related materials, and embracing misunderstanding all allow you to reach further than you could by simply thinking about a problem." Stanford d.school - An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE
At this stage, there are a plethora of creative techniques that you can exploit to generate novelty and innovation in your designs. Kindly see the list below, which is not exhaustive.
I recommend that you explore in detail the list above to determine, which method is ideal for you and your team.
While an ideation workshop can be fun and exciting, you'll need to actively plan and prepare for this session. You may follow the guideline below to ensure the success of your workshop.
Once you have completed the session, all ideas need to be collated, categorized, and refined so you can move forward into the prototyping phase. You'll definitely need to devise a selection criterion to pinpoint which ideas are most feasible and should be transported into the prototyping phase. To evaluate your design concepts, you may exploit affinity diagrams to group your designs. Or, as recommended by Rikke Friis Dam and Teo Yu Siang you could leverage the four categories method to organize your ideas according to their “relative abstractness, ranging from the most rational choice to the 'long shot' choice.” Another option you could exploit is to vote among your ideators to determine which top three ideas should move forward into the prototyping phase. In this way, you can preserve innovation and have sufficient ideas for evaluation in order to decipher the best concept to satisfy your customers' needs.