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The Innovation Process
Module 4.1

Preparations for Invention

Decide who you want to involve and plan your invention process

Before you get started with generating ideas and designing your solution, you will need to prepare by finalising decisions on who you need to involve and how you should involve them, planning the process, and creating the right environment.

Bringing people together to collaborate in a process of invention requires significant preparation. There are many organisations that run structured idea-generation events and programmes for this purpose. If you have the budget, you may want to consider hiring a consultant to facilitate this process. Otherwise, we provide guidance on how to run this process yourself.

As much as possible, and where appropriate, you should consider how to involve the intended users of the product or service you’re seeking to develop, whether they are members of a community affected by crises, government, or a humanitarian organisation. Throughout this stage we draw on the user-centred design mindset, an approach developed in the commercial sector which puts the user’s experience first, rather than the designers’ vision for a product, or an implementing organisation’s own assessment of priorities.

There are numerous user-centred design methods and tools that can be employed with members of communities affected by crises, frontline humanitarian practitioners and other key stakeholders to bring them into the invention process effectively. However, most of these tools and methods were not created for working with vulnerable and potentially traumatised people, and so extra thought and care needs to be taken in designing appropriate activities, on when these are undertaken and who is engaged and the support structures put in place.

In this section we include guidance on how to prepare a process that will support all your participants to engage in a safe, inclusive and enabling manner, along with some practical tools and templates on key issues that you will need to think through and agree. We also provide warm-up activities and rules for brainstorming, as well as an exercise to introduce all of your stakeholders into the methodologies and approaches that you plan to employ.


A Consider how to engage target groups
This primer will help you consider how best to engage different groups in the invention process and how to give them the best chance of working productively together.
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.
C Set the tone and warm-up participants
This exercises in this activity will help to set the ground rules for participants in the ideation process and facilitate some warm-up exercises to encourage creative thinking.