Skip to content
The Innovation Process
Activity B

Plan the creative process

This activity will help you plan an invention process to quickly develop ideas, hone them into concepts, and develop prototypes for further testing and learning.

By gathering together a diverse group of people with different world views, experiences and skills, you have the opportunity to generate new insights and fresh thinking unachievable by working on your own.But to do this successfully you will need to give fill consideration to the people that are involved and the process that they will go through.

Getting the right mix of People

In order to create products and services that are valued and deliver impact you will need to include problem holders, users and people affected by crises. In the Search stage, you may have already given thought to partners and collaborators who you want to involve in this process, but now you will need to consider how best to engage with different groups and how to give them the best chance of working productively together.

We recommend that you review the mix of people that you will want to involve in the process, before completing the following three activities. You should particularly consider including the following categories of people, while also trying to ensure diversity in gender, age (as appropriate) and other socio-economic factors:

  • Problem holders: those who primarily experience the problem
  • Users: those who will have ‘hands-on’ engagement with a product or service solution
  • People affected by crises: those who are frequently vulnerable and have a significant stake in the problem and solution, whether or not they are users of the product or service
  • Humanitarian practitioners: those with relevant mandates or specialisms for this area, ideally from a range of organisations
  • Technical experts: those who have specific expertise in the problem area, as well as those from other sectors or industries who might bring useful knowledge or perspectives to the process

Organising the Process

To get the most out of an invention process, you will need to ensure it is well planned. Invention processes can come in different shapes and sizes, but here we draw on the design sprint methodology – an intense workshop, usually carried out over 3-5 days, that seeks to quickly develop ideas, hone them into concepts and then develop prototypes to test factors such as feasibility, usability and desirability.

We highly recommend reading the pre-sprint planning information provided by Thoughbot on Github, for a guide to setting roles and expectation, and draft emails to participants with some ideas for what you might want them to prepare. The sample agenda on p23 of Nesta and IDEO’s Designing for Public Services toolkit is also a useful reference point.

While these materials give guidance on things to consider when designing your process, they do not map directly onto our process, as we encourage you to spend more time understanding the problem before trying to solve it. While it might be appropriate for Silicon Valley start-ups to “move fast and break things”, more care and consideration is required for innovation in the humanitarian sector.

Further Inspiration

Thoughtbot, Pre-sprint Guidance
A guide to setting roles and expectation for a design workshop, and draft emails to participants

Nesta and IDEO, Designing for Public Services
A draft design sprint agenda is provided on p23

See also

Humanitarian Parameters
Engaging with Gatekeepers and End Users
Intellectual Property Primer