Ideation: A Beginner's Manual

You have a company that’s experienced some success, but you feel you need more. You want to excel in innovation, but lack the resources to do so or have trouble determining a starting point. We understand these challenges firsthand – and we can assist you in reaching your goals of gain and growth.

Before settling into the ideation process, a company must examine its potential in three categories: growth market, mature market, and declining market. These phases determine what can be done to enhance product leadership, customer relations, and existing products. Innovation in these core areas can maximize profits in both the top and bottom line, which is important for all manufacturers, regardless of size. At a recent MAGNET event, many companies voiced struggles in these areas, expressing challenges in increasing profits, improving client relationships, and modifying existing products.

If you have experienced such challenges, MAGNET is here to provide you with the strategic tools necessary for achieving newfound growth. One of these is ideation, a systematic approach to the creation and use of new concepts and ideas. As part of the lengthy process of innovation engineering, ideation serves as a structure for solving conflicts in the realms of design, mechanics, and market.

There is a substantial amount of time and effort that goes into this process, but we have condensed the ideation methodology into an easy equation:

In order to have an MU (Meaningful Unique idea), three elements are required. The first element, known as stimulus (S), refers to those participating in the ideation session. Do those involved know what’s going on? Do they know what obstacles must be overcome to solve pressing problems? Participants in the process play an integral role: not only do they analyze existing issues, but they work towards ultimate solutions.

Diversity (D), the second element, refers to tapping into a wide variety of perspectives, as a means to widening the field of possible solutions. Incorporating people from all walks of life – male and female, black and white, engineers and teachers – is key to bringing different experiences to the table. This provides knowledge valuable not only in the engineering process, but also to determining or reassessing a product market.

The final part of the equation is No Fear (F). Ideation sessions should be committed to learning, listening, and healthy debate. No one should be afraid of looking stupid or failing in some way – every idea has merit.

The ideation process is a long one and can take anywhere from one hour to several days. Regardless of length, a safe and strong ideation process is built on the following steps:

1. Find your problem

2. Charter to define your problem and objectives

3. Research to find stimulus

4. Utilize ideation methods

5. Objectively screen and score your ideas

In addition to these steps, there are four main methods that your company should use during their session:

1. Idea engineering

2. Concept engineering

3. Value engineering product

4. Value engineering process

These steps create a strong pool of possible ideas. At MAGNET, we generate approximately 60 new concepts and four design categories in an average ideation session.

Once concepts and ideas are determined, they must be rated. The following categories are examples that can be placed on your scorecard. Feel free to contact us for guidance if you are interested in covering more ground.

>> Time to Market

>> Capital Investment

>> IP potential

>> Development Cost (Engine and Prototype)

>> Manufacturability

>> ROI

Since we received excellent feedback about our last two book suggestions, we’ve decided to offer a few more suggestions for further reading on the topic of innovation.

>> Dealing with Darwin by Geoffrey Moore

>> The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy

If you are interested in learning more, or have questions about incorporating innovation and ideation into your organization, please give us a call. We look forward to hearing from you, and especially hearing about your growth and profit success! Please call Linda Barita at (216) 391-7766 or email linda.barita@magnetwork.org.

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Posted by MAGNET Ohio in Innovation

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