Ideation is my favorite phase of design thinking. I know I’m not supposed to pick favorites but I can’t help myself, ideation is the most fun and silliest stage in design thinking so how could it not be my favorite. This stage encourages you to generate ideas, quantity over quality to the truest form. Ideas don’t have to be good, in fact, they should be silly! How could you not love being told to think as out of the box as possible?
This quote from the Interaction Design Foundation explains the ideation in a way I really like,
“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.”
To be honest the first time I read this quote I thought it said “going wild” instead of “going wide” and I have to say that while this quote is great, I think I like going wild better. I truly feel like the essence of the ideation phase is to go wild, create as many crazy ideas as possible and see what ones stick. It’s all about going back to the kind of thinking you had in pre school, not caring what anybody thinks and reaching the limits of your imagination. No such thing as a bad idea in the ideation phase.
In order to experience the ideation phase myself I crafted a “how might we” statement and generated ideas around it for how to possibly solve the problem. A “how might we” statement is used as a problem statement to put thoughts into new perspectives. My “how might we” question read as follows: “How might we make it easier to help people solve basic problem with their cars (change a tire, jump start, add air, etc)?” I chose this question because it’s one I find myself asking myself quite often, seeing as my car seems to be plagued with never ending problems.
From there I created two separate columns, one for elements related to my “how might we” statement and one related to vacations. I know you’re probably thinking that the vacation column seems random and you’re right, it is, but later we’re going to be taking elements from something bad (car problems) mixing them with something good (vacation) and seeing how we can come up with a solution to the “how might we” question.
Each column quickly filled up with elements regarding each experience. From there came the fun part, what combinations can be created to solve the “how might we” problem? Letting my imagination run wild I came up with a few solutions I think are just the right mix of practical and silly.
(Auto Shop + Drink) When your car is in for service the Auto Shop will offer you a complimentary drink while you wait.
(Reading the Car Manual + Sight Seeing) Looking up your car’s make and model online will take you to instructional videos about how to handle basic problems step by step.
(Paranoia + Go To The Beach) Instead of a loud ding that plays when your dashboard lights up with an issue, beach sounds will play to keep you calm.
(Auto Shop + Shopping) Auto Shops will have a place attached to it where you can shop for things or eat, since you can’t go anywhere while your car is being worked on.
After creating my solutions I sketched three of them below to further flesh out my ideas. I wasn’t lying when I said this was my favorite step of design thinking. Coming up with silly or out there ideas to practical problems is often the best way to solve them. I’d recommend ideation to anybody trying to change their life around.
Read the rest of my ideation PDF here: Ideation