Ideation Workshop

I combine divergent and convergent ideation techniques in this 60-minute workshop, where participants generate, vet, and refine multiple solutions toward a common challenge. Printable and digital participant forms are included.

January 17, 2021

About this recipe

When to use this recipe

This is most suitable just after being able to define the boundaries of a problem. You can concisely articulate it in a sentence, or maybe two, and are ready to tap into the wisdom of the crowd for input.

Planning

Facilities required

  • Several round, movable tables
  • Chairs
  • Whiteboard (nice to have)

Materials required

For printouts of the worksheets, See Resources below. Digitally fillable versions of the worksheets are also provided for remote facilitation.

  • For each participant
    • provide a brainstorming worksheet Lotus Blossom Brainstorming Technique
    • Ballpoint pens
  • For each group
    • provide a packet Six Thinking Hats

Advance set up

  • Order food
  • Reserve large enough room

Setting up (the day of workshop)

  • Set up round tables, exactly 6 chairs to each table. (One chair for each “thinking hat” during the second half of the brainstorm)
  • Whiteboard to write down guidelines or itinerary. Or, bring a large poster with the same content printed beforehand.
  • Lay out worksheet and pen for each participant

Itinerary

Total 60 minutes

10min: Setup

5min: Divide up into working groups

  • Divide up the people into groups of 6 by having participants. Rearrange groups if needed. The more groups that have exactly 6 members, the better. Also, favor breaking up a large group into groups with fewer than 6 participants rather than one group with more than 6.
  • Have participants who come in late to go to the table with fewer than 6 participants. Split groups larger than 6.

25 min: Divergent brainstorming activity

 

Lotus Blossom technique is used to push participants to think broadly.
Lotus Blossom technique is used to push participants to think broadly.

5min: Present the brainstorming worksheet

  • Introduce the problem domain and prompt to participants, as people eat pizza or whatever catered food of choice.
  • The Lotus Brainstorming Worksheet: have participants come up with initial ideas (labeled "Big Ideas"). Then, for each of the big ideas, come up with as many variants to that idea as possible.

10min: Warm-up: brainstorming individually without discussion

  • Everyone fills out a brainstorming worksheet: Lotus Blossom Brainstorming Technique.
  • If people stop writing, encourage them to either make variations on their existing ideas.
  • Have participants think and write in silence, reminding them that there will be a chance for discussion later. (This is to help the deep thinkers immerse themselves in the problem a bit before being asked to share.)

10min: Remixing: exploring off of neighbor’s ideas

  • Have someone from each table combine all sheets and shuffle their order
  • Deal worksheets to each person to read over the sheet they have been given and add upon their neighbor’s diagrams.
  • Rotate their worksheets in a circle, individually filling out more ideas and variations, until time runs out.
  • Have participants put a star next to ideas they find promising.
  • Encourage discussion and clarification.

25 min: Convergent brainstorming activity

 

Participants put on each of the Six Thinking Hats when evaluating an idea chosen by the group.
Participants put on each of the Six Thinking Hats when evaluating an idea chosen by the group.

10min: Pick an idea

  • As a group, identify the idea with the most stars next to it and write a title and description for it.

5min: Present the brainstorming worksheet

  • The Six Thinking Hats Worksheet: explain to participants that each sheet will have a different set of questions. Have them read the instructions on their sheet and start thinking of ideas.
  • Pass out the worksheets. (Since each is different, this essentially assigns everyone a colored hat to start with.)

10min: Refine and develop ideas

  • Have each participant copy down the title and description of the selected idea onto their worksheet.
  • Have participants perform their colored hat’s role. When finished with the sheet, pass the worksheet to the participant’s right. As they receive sheets from the left, have them take on that new hat’s role.
  • Continue to rotate the worksheets, passing to the right, until time runs out.

Resources

Lotus Blossom Worksheet

The editable versions of the forms are ready to receive your prompts. From there, you can either print them for an in-person workshop, or distribute them digitally.

  • Form (with Example Prompt)
  • Form (Editable)
  • Form (InDesign)

Six Thinking Hats Worksheet

These worksheets should be versatile enough to fit any prompt.

Worksheet Font (for InDesign)

Metropolis by Chris Simpson

Works Cited

Good luck!

Hope this recipe can lead to a workshop that garners a lot of interesting ideas.

Let me know how it goes!


Jay Liu
Written by Jay Liu, interaction designer.
https://jayliu.design
© 2021, Jay Liu