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World Information Architecture Day - NYC
February 18, 2017
Leading Creative
Ideation

Unlocking a Wave of Fresh Ideas in Y...
INTRODUCTION
Nice to meet you.
Shannon McGarity
Director of User Experience
Cooper’s NYC office
BREADTH:
VisD, IxD,
Conten...
COOPER + COLLEGE BOARD
Cover Story Activity
Cooper is a business strategy 

and design firm based in 

San Francisco and Ne...
Founded by Sue Cooper + 

Alan Cooper in 1992.
RECENT PROJECTS
What I’ve Been
Up To at Cooper
+ Taught a corporate workshop at
PADI on Service Design.

+ Prototyped a to...
COOPER + COLLEGE BOARD
Today…
Ideation fundamentals:

What’s the value of ideation? Who ideates?

When do you ideate? Is t...
Fundamentals
what, why, when, how?
What is ideation?
+ It’s an activity or framework that encourages the
generation of a large volume of new ideas very
quick...
Why ideate?
Because it makes innovation
possible.
Exploration opens the door to new connections,
insights and perspectives...
You can’t make new
things without new
thinking.
Do-able
Same
old stuff
Practical Possible
You are
here
Ludicrous
Impossible
A great
idea
Ridiculous
Magic
Lateral thinking...
Find magic in the indirect path.
“What work I
have done I have
done because it
has been play. If
it had been work
I shouldn't have
done it.”
“Before, we built what seemed cool to us. Our ideation
workshops built consensus. It was fun to think in new ways…”
— deve...
Cross-silo
teams
(workshops)
Users & focus
groups
(labs)
Who ideates?

IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS
Design teams &
individuals
(d...
When to ideate?
IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS
Discover Describe Design Deliver
What problem
should we be
solving and
why?
Who are ...
Is there one right way
to ideate? Nope.
IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS
Design Jams
3 Steps to Ideation
set the tone, use the right tools, evaluate ideas
STEP 1:
Set the tone
STEP 2:
Use the right tools
STEP 3:
Evaluate ideas
3 STEPS TO IDEATION
Cultivate a creative
culture… create the
psychological space
for innovation.
Be prepared.
Set your sessions up for success with a few simple steps.
Invite the right
people & set
expectations
PREPARATION
Host on neutral
(and inspiring)
turf.
PREPARATION
Supply
materials.
PREPARATION
Articulate the problem & clarify the design target.
PREPARATION
PREPARATION
Whatever you have to keep the user’s
experience front of mind…
Create a
parking lot.
PREPARATION
Make it safe to
ideate by
normalizing risk.
If we all do something that’s a little bit silly or different
and nobody gets ...
NORMALIZE RISK
Incorporate play.
NORMALIZE RISK
Suggest rules of
engagement to let
people know
what’s expected.
NORMALIZE RISK
Suggest rules of
engagement to let
people know
what’s expected.
NORMALIZE RISK
Warm up the
crowd with
“Sketch aerobics!”
SKETCH AEROBICS!
NORMALIZE RISK
Create a safe
space with “The
Bad Idea Contest”
ACTIVITY (10 MINUTES)
Bad Idea Contest
The challenge: Generate as many horrible
solutions for this product/service as you ...
What’s the point?
Sometimes we’re able
to mine our worst ideas
for solution gold.

Or be clearly warned
from wandering int...
Where are you going
to aim the firehose?
STEP 1:
Set the tone
STEP 2:
Use the right tools
STEP 3:
Evaluate ideas
3 STEPS TO IDEATION
As a leader of ideation
you need to have
multiple brainstorming
methods at your disposal
for different contexts.
4 (of many) methods we use…
Why/How
Laddering
Stimulus Pass the
Sketch
PLUS: Custom Games & Worksheets
Sometimes we’d like to make sure we’re
looking at the problem at the right level.
(How we frame problems affects how
we sol...
IDEATION METHOD 1
Why/How
Laddering
Reframe the problem
to unlock new ideas.

WHY?
HOW?
Ask “Why?”

to broaden scope and
o...
IDEATION METHOD 1
“Why?”
Laddering
Use when…

+ Focus on strategic
conversations 

+ Broaden scope and open
up to new poss...
IDEATION METHOD 1
“How?”
Laddering
Use when…

+ Focus on more tactical,
actionable solutions

+ Narrow and ground
your thi...
Sometimes we think too
narrowly or get stuck.
How can we explore
completely new possibilities?
SITUATION
IDEATION METHOD 2
Stimulus
Provide prompts to
inspire more or better
ideas when your team
is stuck.
WHAT IF…
It has to
mak...
IDEATION METHOD 2
Stimulus Examples
“What if?” statements

What if it has to make your customer laugh?

What if it is an e...
IDEATION METHOD 2
Stimulus Examples
Imagery
IDEATION METHOD 2
Stimulus
How to do it:

1. Articulate the problem
they’re solving.

2. Explain that they should
use each...
You want to push ideas
further.
Ideas evolve in interesting
ways when we invite others
to build on them.
SITUATION
IDEATION METHOD 3
Pass the Sketch
Build upon ideas of
others.
Use when: 

+ You’re stuck & would benefit
from collaborativ...
IDEATION METHOD 3
Pass the Sketch
How to do it:

1. Choose an idea to sketch

2. Share your idea (1 min)

3. Pass it aroun...
Sometimes we feel our
participants need more
coaching or constraints.
SITUATION
IDEATION METHOD 4
Custom Games
& Worksheets
When participants
need even more
framing to generate
their best ideas.
We created an
Exploration
Workshop for
Planned
Parenthood’s
LGBTQA+
audience.
This activity was a
facilitator 

We created...
A customized
worksheet
helped youth
come up with
ideas for their
ideal support
group facilitator
in a safe, fun
framework....
This particular game helped young adults ideate
around the best experience for a credit card.
STEP 1:
Set the tone
STEP 2:
Use the right tools
STEP 3:
Evaluate ideas
3 STEPS TO IDEATION
Defer judgement when ideating.
Evaluation of ideas should
happen at a different time and
place.
Matrix Scoring Grids
Evaluation methods help stakeholders
assess and agree upon which ideas are
actionable.
Dot Voting
EVALUATION METHOD
Dot Voting
Find out which ideas resonate
with stakeholders most with a
quick lightweight voting exercise.
EVALUATION METHOD
Matrix
Assess & compare ideas against specific criteria.
HIGH IMPACT
(DESIRABILITY)
LOW IMPACT
EASE OF
I...
EXAMPLE
Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation
EXAMPLE
Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation
HIGH IMPACT
(DESIRABILITY)
LOW IMPACT
EASE OF
IMPLEMENTATION
(FEASABILITY)
H...
EXAMPLE
Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation (Result)
EVALUATION METHOD
Scoring grids VALUE TO THE
ORGANIZATION
VALUE TO THE
CUSTOMER
GUT
FEELING
EASE OF

IMPLEMENTATION
7 5
82...
Pitfalls + Tips
when ideation goes wrong
Don’t.
Panic.
UCONN + COOPER
A person
refuses to
participate?
What if…
+ Let them refuse. 

+ Deflect attention. 

+ Avoid from the git-...
UCONN + COOPER
A few people
dominate?
What if…
+ Call on specific people.

+ Provide individual ideation
time so everyone ...
People continue
to push their
pre-conceived
ideas?
What if…
+ Create a “Pet Sitter.”

+ Refocus on the problem.
“What prob...
UCONN + COOPER
Energy is low
or flagging.
What if…
+ Do another warm-up to help
them get comfortable such as
rock, paper, ...
SPECIAL FOR TODAY’S ATTENDEES:
20% Discount on Cooper Professional Education classes

Use code “WIAD20”

Thank you
for you...
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017
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Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017

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Fighting to get your team to think big picture and outside the box? Do your brainstorming sessions lead to total chaos? Having trouble generating fresh, actionable ideas? Or getting buy-in at stratified and siloed organizations? The struggle is real. You can’t make new things without new (and lateral) thinking. Through the lens of my own practice at Cooper, I discuss the value of developing an exploration strategy—the frameworks and ideation methods I’ve relied on to unlock waves of creative ideas in teams otherwise mired in tactical thinking or skeptical of the value of brainstorming. I’ll also share a few evaluation methods that transform that dump truck full of ideas into a prioritized, actionable roadmap.

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Leading Creative Ideation - World IA Day (NYC) 2017

  1. 1. World Information Architecture Day - NYC February 18, 2017 Leading Creative Ideation
 Unlocking a Wave of Fresh Ideas in Your Organization
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION Nice to meet you. Shannon McGarity Director of User Experience Cooper’s NYC office BREADTH: VisD, IxD, Content, Marketing, Service Design THE WORK I DO NOW: Both UX practitioner & teacher at Cooper EXPERIENCE: 20+years in the industry
  3. 3. COOPER + COLLEGE BOARD Cover Story Activity Cooper is a business strategy 
 and design firm based in 
 San Francisco and New York.
  4. 4. Founded by Sue Cooper + 
 Alan Cooper in 1992.
  5. 5. RECENT PROJECTS What I’ve Been Up To at Cooper + Taught a corporate workshop at PADI on Service Design. + Prototyped a tool to onboard LGBTQA+ teens onto an online support platform. + Helped the UConn Foundation re- think “Annual Giving” fundraising. + Redesigned the online compendia ensuring purity of U.S. drugs and food for U.S. Pharmacopeia.
  6. 6. COOPER + COLLEGE BOARD Today… Ideation fundamentals: What’s the value of ideation? Who ideates? When do you ideate? Is there any one right way to ideate? The 3 steps to great ideation: 1) Set the tone 2) Use the right tools 3) Evaluate ideas BONUS: When brainstorming goes wrong! Tips for better ideation sessions & strategies to avoid derailment
  7. 7. Fundamentals what, why, when, how?
  8. 8. What is ideation? + It’s an activity or framework that encourages the generation of a large volume of new ideas very quickly. + It’s a way to get buy-in for change within your organization through inclusion. + It’s a tool to help us rise above the day to day… to zoom out. IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS:
  9. 9. Why ideate? Because it makes innovation possible. Exploration opens the door to new connections, insights and perspectives. IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS
  10. 10. You can’t make new things without new thinking.
  11. 11. Do-able Same old stuff Practical Possible You are here Ludicrous Impossible A great idea Ridiculous Magic Lateral thinking is powerful. IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS Do-able Same old stuff Practical Possible You are here Magic Practical
  12. 12. Find magic in the indirect path.
  13. 13. “What work I have done I have done because it has been play. If it had been work I shouldn't have done it.”
  14. 14. “Before, we built what seemed cool to us. Our ideation workshops built consensus. It was fun to think in new ways…” — developer
  15. 15. Cross-silo teams (workshops) Users & focus groups (labs) Who ideates?
 IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS Design teams & individuals (daily practice)
  16. 16. When to ideate? IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS Discover Describe Design Deliver What problem should we be solving and why? Who are our customers? What do they need? What is the best solution? How do we create, build, and deliver on our solution? What problem should we be solving and why? Who are our customers and what do they need? What is the best solution? How do we create, build, and deliver on our solution?
  17. 17. Is there one right way to ideate? Nope. IDEATION FUNDAMENTALS Design Jams
  18. 18. 3 Steps to Ideation set the tone, use the right tools, evaluate ideas
  19. 19. STEP 1: Set the tone STEP 2: Use the right tools STEP 3: Evaluate ideas 3 STEPS TO IDEATION
  20. 20. Cultivate a creative culture… create the psychological space for innovation.
  21. 21. Be prepared. Set your sessions up for success with a few simple steps.
  22. 22. Invite the right people & set expectations PREPARATION
  23. 23. Host on neutral (and inspiring) turf. PREPARATION
  24. 24. Supply materials. PREPARATION
  25. 25. Articulate the problem & clarify the design target. PREPARATION PREPARATION
  26. 26. Whatever you have to keep the user’s experience front of mind…
  27. 27. Create a parking lot. PREPARATION
  28. 28. Make it safe to ideate by normalizing risk. If we all do something that’s a little bit silly or different and nobody gets fired, it takes us one step closer to being more able to foster creativity
  29. 29. NORMALIZE RISK Incorporate play.
  30. 30. NORMALIZE RISK Suggest rules of engagement to let people know what’s expected.
  31. 31. NORMALIZE RISK Suggest rules of engagement to let people know what’s expected.
  32. 32. NORMALIZE RISK Warm up the crowd with “Sketch aerobics!”
  33. 33. SKETCH AEROBICS!
  34. 34. NORMALIZE RISK Create a safe space with “The Bad Idea Contest”
  35. 35. ACTIVITY (10 MINUTES) Bad Idea Contest The challenge: Generate as many horrible solutions for this product/service as you can. + Fold a piece of paper into 8 squares + Ideate for 5 minutes - 1 idea per square + Share with the group for 5 minutes + Determine 2 worst ideas to share!
  36. 36. What’s the point? Sometimes we’re able to mine our worst ideas for solution gold. Or be clearly warned from wandering into dangerous territory.
  37. 37. Where are you going to aim the firehose?
  38. 38. STEP 1: Set the tone STEP 2: Use the right tools STEP 3: Evaluate ideas 3 STEPS TO IDEATION
  39. 39. As a leader of ideation you need to have multiple brainstorming methods at your disposal for different contexts.
  40. 40. 4 (of many) methods we use… Why/How Laddering Stimulus Pass the Sketch PLUS: Custom Games & Worksheets
  41. 41. Sometimes we’d like to make sure we’re looking at the problem at the right level. (How we frame problems affects how we solve them.) SITUATION
  42. 42. IDEATION METHOD 1 Why/How Laddering Reframe the problem to unlock new ideas. WHY? HOW? Ask “Why?” to broaden scope and open up to new possibilities Ask “How?” to narrow focus and get more concrete solutions Your problem statement. START HERE
  43. 43. IDEATION METHOD 1 “Why?” Laddering Use when… + Focus on strategic conversations + Broaden scope and open up to new possibilities + Challenge core beliefs about the solution SOLUTION Alumni community platform NEW PROBLEM STATEMENT WHY? To strengthen customer loyalty. PROBLEM STATEMENT: We need to create a new course for our customers How can we strengthen customer loyalty? START HERE
  44. 44. IDEATION METHOD 1 “How?” Laddering Use when… + Focus on more tactical, actionable solutions + Narrow and ground your thinking + Decide on and prioritize a course of action SOLUTION Curated thought leadership program targeting leaders from key fields NEW PROBLEM STATEMENT HOW? Invite a thought leader we respect to teach the course. We need to create a new course for our customers How might we identify a thought leader to teach a course? PROBLEM STATEMENT START HERE
  45. 45. Sometimes we think too narrowly or get stuck. How can we explore completely new possibilities? SITUATION
  46. 46. IDEATION METHOD 2 Stimulus Provide prompts to inspire more or better ideas when your team is stuck. WHAT IF… It has to make your customer laugh? PROTECTIVE Use when: + You’re having trouble coming up with any ideas + You’re tired of incremental improvements & want NEW possibilities + Your team is thinking too narrowly and need to expand their mindset
  47. 47. IDEATION METHOD 2 Stimulus Examples “What if?” statements What if it has to make your customer laugh? What if it is an entirely analog experience? What if pilotless planes are the norm? What if your customer uses/interacts with it daily? What if sound is a key component of the experience? What if it is 50 years into the future? What if it is magic, there are no technical constraints, and anything is possible? What if there are no check-in counters? Word prompts Luxurious Party Playful Coach Creative Vacation Protection Gift
  48. 48. IDEATION METHOD 2 Stimulus Examples Imagery
  49. 49. IDEATION METHOD 2 Stimulus How to do it: 1. Articulate the problem they’re solving. 2. Explain that they should use each stimulus to generate as many ideas as possible in 1 minute over a course of X minutes. 3. Encourage them to visualize (draw!) their ideas 4. Show the stimuli in succession 5. Share
  50. 50. You want to push ideas further. Ideas evolve in interesting ways when we invite others to build on them. SITUATION
  51. 51. IDEATION METHOD 3 Pass the Sketch Build upon ideas of others. Use when: + You’re stuck & would benefit from collaborative brainstorming + Your team has a solution in mind and needs to narrow their thinking + Your team is arguing about how a solution can unfold + You need to include experts from other domains but not sure how
  52. 52. IDEATION METHOD 3 Pass the Sketch How to do it: 1. Choose an idea to sketch 2. Share your idea (1 min) 3. Pass it around (1 min increments) 4. Repeat until team has iterated on every idea at the table (and the original idea has returned to originator). 5. Share how each idea evolved.
  53. 53. Sometimes we feel our participants need more coaching or constraints. SITUATION
  54. 54. IDEATION METHOD 4 Custom Games & Worksheets When participants need even more framing to generate their best ideas.
  55. 55. We created an Exploration Workshop for Planned Parenthood’s LGBTQA+ audience. This activity was a facilitator We created an Ideation Workshop for Planned Parenthood’s LGBTQA+ audience…
  56. 56. A customized worksheet helped youth come up with ideas for their ideal support group facilitator in a safe, fun framework. IDEATION METHOD 4
  57. 57. This particular game helped young adults ideate around the best experience for a credit card.
  58. 58. STEP 1: Set the tone STEP 2: Use the right tools STEP 3: Evaluate ideas 3 STEPS TO IDEATION
  59. 59. Defer judgement when ideating. Evaluation of ideas should happen at a different time and place.
  60. 60. Matrix Scoring Grids Evaluation methods help stakeholders assess and agree upon which ideas are actionable. Dot Voting
  61. 61. EVALUATION METHOD Dot Voting Find out which ideas resonate with stakeholders most with a quick lightweight voting exercise.
  62. 62. EVALUATION METHOD Matrix Assess & compare ideas against specific criteria. HIGH IMPACT (DESIRABILITY) LOW IMPACT EASE OF IMPLEMENTATION (FEASABILITY) HARD TO IMPLEMENT + Bang vs buck + UX value vs. tech value + Meets user goals vs. meets business goals + Desirability (to persona) vs. feasibility OTHER CONTINUUMS
  63. 63. EXAMPLE Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation
  64. 64. EXAMPLE Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation HIGH IMPACT (DESIRABILITY) LOW IMPACT EASE OF IMPLEMENTATION (FEASABILITY) HARD TO IMPLEMENT Short-Term Mid-Term Long-Term Most Desirable
  65. 65. EXAMPLE Solutions Matrix for UConn Foundation (Result)
  66. 66. EVALUATION METHOD Scoring grids VALUE TO THE ORGANIZATION VALUE TO THE CUSTOMER GUT FEELING EASE OF
 IMPLEMENTATION 7 5 82 Sometimes we evaluate and prioritize based on four criteria, on a scale of 1-10. This is how we can look at solutions and evaluate more strategically and quantitatively.
  67. 67. Pitfalls + Tips when ideation goes wrong
  68. 68. Don’t. Panic.
  69. 69. UCONN + COOPER A person refuses to participate? What if… + Let them refuse. + Deflect attention. + Avoid from the git-go by anticipating challenges.
  70. 70. UCONN + COOPER A few people dominate? What if… + Call on specific people. + Provide individual ideation time so everyone contributes. + Facilitate how ideas are shared in an ordered way. + Work the room.
  71. 71. People continue to push their pre-conceived ideas? What if… + Create a “Pet Sitter.” + Refocus on the problem. “What problem does this solve?” + Do your homework.
  72. 72. UCONN + COOPER Energy is low or flagging. What if… + Do another warm-up to help them get comfortable such as rock, paper, scissors contest. + Snacks: Because “hangry” is a real thing. + Stretching & posture breaks.
  73. 73. SPECIAL FOR TODAY’S ATTENDEES: 20% Discount on Cooper Professional Education classes Use code “WIAD20” Thank you for you for inviting me to speak! LET’S STAY CONNECTED: Twitter: @shannonmcgarity @cooperdesign https://www.cooper.com/training

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