Anatomy of an Idea

How to share ideas in the Ideate phase.

Ideation is hard. For a number of reasons, it can be quite difficult to generate a new idea that adequately solves a problem. And there’s a popular conception that, in order to be impactful, ideas must be big and bold, with a certain “wow” factor. This tends to inhibit us from sharing our ideas with each other, since we fear we won’t be innovative enough or that our ideas aren’t worth sharing. Although ideation is hard, it can also be one of the most fun phases in the design process.

In the “Ideate” phase on The Teachers Guild, we’re working with Google for Education to rethink how we build innovative cultures within schools and classrooms. Specifically, we’re addressing:

How might we create rituals and routines that establish a culture of innovation in our classrooms and schools?

As a Teacher Coach with The Guild, I’d like to walk you through how I share “Ideate” posts using the platform. In this post, you’ll see how I break down an idea into different parts. Remember, this particular example is tends toward the more fully-baked end of the spectrum. Ideas can (and should) go through LOTS of iteration. This is just one example of how your idea can look as it starts to become more refined. Solutions need not be perfect (since perfect solutions don’t exist!).

Below is a revised post I shared on The Teachers Guild (find it here) that outlines the basic criteria for a good post (not everything below needs to be included at first!). To build up the idea incrementally, first share any inspirations for the idea, linking back to the “Discover” phase if appropriate. Then, jump into the 5 “W” questions, answering “what,” “who,” “where,” “when,” and “why” to the extent possible.

Next comes any finer-grain detail for the idea, where any of the “W” questions from above can be described in more detail. Rounding out the post are two key questions: Potential for Impact and Scalability/Adaptability. The Potential for Impact section should explore in some detail how the proposed solution can support the culture change posed in the challenge question and help to establish a culture of innovation within a school. And any details regarding scaling up the idea across several classroom and/or schools and adapting it to different environments can be discussed in the last part of the post. For example, it may be helpful to consider different “versions” of the solution, e.g. a low-cost version vs. a more expensive or time-intensive one.

As is usual, if you have any questions about creating a post or want to talk over the details, feel free to reach out to me or any other of the teacher coaches. We’re looking forward to seeing your ideas!

Appendix