As a Design Strategist, I have to perform several idea generation sessions each month. I might need ideas to innovate a service or to tackle a problem brought by a client. I use a different set of methods for generating this new and creative ideas. Of course, when it’s possible we setup a team brainstorm. It ends up like a giant post-it party. But, sometimes I’ll just do some ideation on my side. And then bring the best insights to discussion for the team. I found out that one of the best times to generate ideas is the road from the train station to the office. It’s just 15 minutes, but highly creative minutes. During this moment, my body is in movement and I’m already in action. There, divergent thinking is a lot easier. I think it's because I have a goal (walking) from which I can diverge without a problem. I feel that it’s sometimes quiet hard to generate ideas when it’s the only task you have. It's maybe because the pressure feels higher? I’m not sure. But when I’m doing other activity the idea generation process is exceptional. That is not something particular to me. It seems that researcher found similar conclusions.
Research shows that 5-16 minute walk can increase the number of ideas produced during a brainstorm by a massive 60%. — Podio Research
Find your key moments
Weird moments for weird ideas
Idea generation is just a systematic way to find weird ideas.
When I was still a college student, I found out all the design ideas for my portfolio for Art School during my French class. That was a boring class. You just had to write down the titles of the slide shown by the professor. It didn’t need a lot of work, and it had a simple goal. I could easily diverge on that task without damages. It was, in fact, a weird place to find design ideas. But it was one of these key moments where you have a simple goal that you can break.
Today, when I have an idea generation to do, I use several key moments to push the process. It’s usually the moments where I’m doing something simple and repetitive. It can be walking, taking a shower or just being on the toilets. Of course, this creates quiet funny moments. You might come out of the toilets at work with a huge smile. That, because you just found the solution to this big problem you had for weeks. That leads me to this rule: using weird moments for finding weird ideas just works.