17.4. The Ideation Session

Don't wait for lightning to strike. Get out the lightning rods!


For every hour in ideation, you should have spent 10—100 hours in preparation. Most of the folklore on NPD is about this glamorous "moment" when the light bulb goes on. However, the best ideas bounce like ping-pong balls, they generally don't flash on like lights. Creativity can be a complex, exceedingly personal, and fragile process. Those who seek to control the power of creative thinking also can destroy it. No matter how long the list of ideas, or from how many sources you may have drawn insight, ideation will be sterile without that momentary spark of recognized genius (Prince, 1970; Osborn, 1942). In order to facilitate the ideation session, three different types of exercises are utilized: creativity, analytic, and experiential.

17.4.1. Creativity Exercises

Creativity exercises at the heart of ideation come in the form of metaphor building or irrelevant thinking followed by a forced connection to the task. For example, a Hershey's team was asked by their facilitator to go on an imaginary vacation. One subteam went on a ski vacation to the Alps and brought back a travel poster as instructed. The travel poster had snow-covered mountains with "shoosh" marks curving down the mountain side. The facilitator asked the full team to imagine what kind of candy that made them think of. One idea was "a white kiss with a chocolate stripe, a shoosh mark, curving ...

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