Ideation Day

Ideation Day – When working with your scrum team, I’ve found it’s very beneficial to set aside some time each week to iterate and develop lightning demos to solve a user problem. This is typically a low fidelity process for seeing how valid the solution might be, let’s the creative juices flow in team members and allows for looking at low hanging fruit to improve your product offering.

Ideation Day

Christina Wodtke does a good job at explaining the actual process in a three piece essay:

This is the second part of a three part essay on rapid MVP creation to start testing assumptions. Part One is here. It was written for my Creative Founder class.

There are two useful skills to acquire to execute this technique: how to draw and how to tell a story. Not required, but useful. Stick figures are always welcome.

The design sprint…or Ideation Day

…is the latest hot method for getting from nothing to something as quickly and effectively as possible. But it’s not really a new approach. It’s based on design charettes.

Charettes were used originally by architects in the 19th century. A studio of junior and senior architects would furiously work nonstop on potential design directions, iterating and building on each other’s ideas until no one knew who thought of what. They’d then work through the night to build scale models of the best building directions. In the morning, a cart (the charette) would arrive to pick them up to take them to the client.

Call it a sprint or a charette, the goal is to create ideas embodied in a scale model or prototype. Those models should have enough fidelity they can be evaluated by clients or customers, but not enough fidelity that they can be considered finished. A good prototype invites conversation and collaboration.

The following is the method I take students and client through to create those early prototypes. This process can be done by anyone, from ops to finance. Many hands means many ideas means higher likelihood of innovation.

A Better Brainstorm

Before we start in, a couple words on brainstorms. There are dozens of articles on why brainstorms don’t work. But I’ll add another reason. In a traditional brainstorm, one person stands by the whiteboard, waving a marker and cheerfully calling out, “Just shout out your ideas! No judgement!”

You know who shouts out their ideas? Extroverted white men.

Introverts don’t shout, and women and people of color have often learned the hard way to be cautious of their image at work — too cautious to yell out ideas, anyway, because there is no such things as “no judgement.”

So what do you do instead?

Try a simple technique called “Freelisting.” As we discussed in the last article, we want things (insights, ideas) in a modular form so we can manipulate them to see synergies. In freelisting everyone SILENTLY writes down their ideas. EVERYONE. Freely.

It’s very easy to do.


Small enough they can only hold a single idea.

Get a BUNCH of post-its, at least one pad per person. I recommend the small ones: 1.5x2in.

Set a timer for at least five minutes. Now each person writes as many ideas she can think of, one per post-it. ONE PER POST-IT. They have to be modular so we can rearrange them. It’s done silently.

Keep Reading about Ideation Day in Practice

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