The Ideation Process


A few weeks ago, we attended a workshop with the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) where we learned about a new brainstorming technique: the Ideation Process. Led by Nadia Bunten, Associate Professor at IE School of Social and Behavioral Science, we walked through a step-by-step process on how to generate ideas and problem solve faster and more efficiently than traditional brainstorms.

The goal of the ideation process isn’t to generate a whole bunch of ideas, but rather coming up with the single, best solution. It also:

  • Removes internal hierarchies
  • Brings together people from different disciplines/departments
  • Helps put “bad”/”not well thought through” ideas into a process
  • Separates content and process

We have to say, this was a lot different and much more efficient than the type of brainstorms we are traditionally used to! Here’s what we learned:

Pre-Brainstorm: Designate one problem owner. He/she will lead the process.

It’s important to note that throughout the process, other problems/issues can come up. Do not try and solve these as part of the brainstorm as it disrupts the flow. Instead, table them for an outside discussion or hold another brainstorm all together.

Step 1: Problem owner defines the problem into a headline.

Example: How to convince your brand to use more current communications activities and steer away from traditional PR.

 The problem solver should ask him/herself:

  • Why do you need a solution?
  • What do you need to see a solution?

Step 2: As a team, generate a BUNCH of ideas as fast as you can.

 Be sure to use different viewpoints to generate a wide-range of ideas:

  • “I wish my client would….”
  • Split up your team to think as a different type of client (example: 2 people think of the problem as it pertains as NASA, 2 as the circus, etc.) This takes you away from the problem

Step 3: Problem owner picks his/her top 3-5 ideas.


Step 4: Make a list of the positives and negatives for each of the top picks.


Step 5: Problem owner decides on the best idea, and the team agrees on next steps and execution!

 We have already been implementing these steps in our sessions and have seen great progress in our workflow. These steps have helped us mitigate and eliminate some of the hurdles we used to face and has improved our output speed significantly. We highly recommend implementing these steps in your routine to break away from traditional inefficient models!