Ideation Workshops: how to solve complex problems in 6 hours?

When we talk and write about tools in service design, we most generally talk about each tool separately (e.g: brainstorming, affinity diagram, scenarios, etc). But in the book “Sprint — How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in just 5 Days” by Jake Knapp, he presents a series of tools. All together they are form a method, the Sprint. The book is very good, easy to read but mostly, it is a great to see how to combine tools. What is good order of tools that work together for each moment of the design process.

In Inland Design we also have a series of tools that were probed useful. We use them in our Ideation workshops. An ideation workshop last 6 hours, with one hour break for lunch. The aim of these workshops is to find out the main challenges of a team and co-design possible solutions addressing these challenges together with others in the organisation.

Our order of tools for Ideation workshop is:

1) Identifying challenges: 10 min of individually identifying challenges and writing them in post its. One challenge per post it. Lately we focus on challenges in relation to our clients.

2) Affinity diagram: each person tells about the challenges she found and we place group them on a board for everybody to see. We make clusters and name each cluster

3) Brainstorm: participants brainstorm solutions for one particular challenge individually. 3–4 people brainstorm ideas for the same challenge. They form a group in the next step We tell them to be wild and creative. We ask participants to think of solutions that might happen in 5 years from now.

4) Presenting ideas: Each person in the group presents her ideas to others. We use our innovation matrix to place the ideas meanwhile they are presenting them.

5) Scenario: Each group chooses one idea and builds a scenario using legos or wooden pieces. The scenario is a story that tells how things will happen in the future. They developed the idea through the scenario.

One scenario shown with legos and wooden pieces.

6) Envisioning canvas: Each group fills the envisioning canvas.

7) Final presentations: Each group presents to others the idea chosen through the scenario and the envisioning canvas.

8) Next steps: We discuss how to move forward. Can Inland Design help the team to go to the next step? Generally the next step is to present the ideas to our managers to see if we get resources to continue working on them.

We have organized till now 5 ideation workshops in different areas of Finland where we have our offices. Three ideas coming from these ideation workshops took the form of projects in which Inland support the development team. Big challenges such as the redesign of certain processes or changing working practices were part of the solutions that came in this workshops.