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The Innovation Process
Module 4.2


Find inspiration, brainstorm ideas, and start converging on a solution

Generating ideas is often conflated with innovation itself, the 1% of inspiration that overshadows the 99% of perspiration required to navigate the entire innovation process.

The good news is that it can be inspiring. If done well, it will challenge assumptions and mental models, requiring participants to question their own thinking. But it can also be uncomfortable and stretch those involved. Ideation is a divergent process that aims to generate lots of ideas before filtering and distilling the best ideas, to converge on a fully-fledged concept.

In this module, you will start by finding inspiration, looking for ideas and stimulus from others. Next, you will carry out an initial brainstorm, making sure that you create and observe rules to foster the right attitude and atmosphere. Once you have exhausted your initial ideas, you will need to start stretching your thinking, creating challenging constraints or targets. Finally, start clustering, bundling and narrowing down your ideas to a point of convergence.

The approaches outlined in these four steps can be used to develop products, services and process innovations. Once you have developed your solution you already need to be thinking about sustainability and scale, so this module also covers business model innovation, providing signposts to toolkits for innovating your business model to deliver value in itself or to support the successful delivery of your solution.

Every humanitarian problem has many potential solutions waiting to be discovered and created. If we were to provide one key piece of advice, it would be  to ensure that everyone in the process realises that there is no single correct solution. Educational systems too often encourage a mindset of right and wrong answers, and the idea of multiple potential solutions to a problem with equal value can be surprisingly difficult for people to grasp.


4.2 A Get inspiration for ideas
This activity will help you gain inspiration from areas outside of their everyday experience in order to develop fresh thinking.
4.2 B Generate initial ideas
The exercises in this activity will help you start generating ideas using structured brainstorming exercises to encourage creativity and group discussion.
4.2 C Stretch thinking
The exercises in this activity will help stretch your thinking by getting you to look at the problem and think of solutions from different perspectives.
4.2 D Expand and combine ideas
The exercises in this activity will help you start building on your initial ideas and try recombining different ideas and solutions in order to strengthen them.
4.2 E Explore business models
The resources and exercises in this activity will help you explore business models with the potential to transform the way your solution is delivered, ensuring sustainability and scalability.
4.2 F Select an idea
The exercises in this activity will help you sort through your ideas and identify the most promising ideas that you want to take forward to concept development.