Ideo: The ideation phase

Whenever a new project begins is because we want to solve a new problem. The ideation phase is the first step in that direction.

Ideo is a global design company known for their advance practice of human-centered design. The Palo Alto company is known for successfully apply the “design thinking” process to promote innovation and create solutions with a positive impact.

Brainstorm rules

The best way to find a great idea is starting from lots of ideas, collaborations, good communication and openness to wild solutions.

Below you’ll find the brainstorming rules to have a successful ideation meeting.

  1. Defer judgement
  2. Build on other’s ideas
  3. Be clear
  4. Encourage wild ideas
  5. One conversation at a time
  6. Quantity

Defer judgement

Ideation is all about coming up with different ways to acheive a specific result. When someone brings up an idea, don’t evaluate it or judge peoples ideas. Make sure the space is safe for people to speak up as well as to build on other’s ideas.

Build on others ideas

Whenever someone has an idea where you can expand on, be mindful of your wording. Be positive. Some examples to build on other’s idea can be:

  • that’s great because…
  • yes, and…
  • right, also…

Be clear

All ideas must be written and shown to everyone. Also, try to be as visual as you can and make sure the team has a clear understanding of every idea presented.

Encourage wild ideas

This is the only time you get to be as wild as you can. This will spark more ideas and innovation. Think out of the box and remove any constraints from the ideation process.

One converation at a time

The team will get further if everyone is paying attention to a single idea at time.


The main goal is to create as many ideas as possible. Whenever you think you have enough, try adding a bit more! Ideo says that in a 60 minute meeting at least a 100 ideas should be captured.

How to implement it?

Participating and leading brainstorming sessions isn’t easy. The cultural environment of each company varies widely. To implement the brainstorming rules successfully it’s necessary to make the participants aware.

If you are the leader, make sure to send the rules when you invite the participants to the meeting and to go through them before the brainstorming starts. Select a moderator to call out for anyone breaking the rules and remind the team to be mindful. Is not about blaming, is about being aware. Make sure the moderator explains this point before calling out anyone.

If you are a participant, you can share the rules to the leader previous the meeting and seek an agreement on how to implement it.

Remember, it’s an iterative process. Eventually, it will become part of the team culture and brainstorming will be an engine for new creative and innovative solutions.

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