“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” 

If you’re interested in entrepreneurship, you probably know this statement by Theodore Levitt, Marketing Professor at Harvard. The idea behind it is that successful businesses, products, and services are those capable of solving a problem.

Finding the answer to a problem is a key step when creating a startup, however, it’s just the beginning. The next challenge after identifying the problem is coming up with an innovative solution for it. Uber has created an app as a transport alternative and Airbnb a platform that replaces hotels. Getting to a final—let alone great—idea isn’t easy. 

The ideation process is exactly what every entrepreneur needs when looking for ideas. It’s the cornerstone for innovative businesses and ideas that actually reshape the market.

What is Ideation?

Well known by experienced designers, ideation is a part of the design thinking process that was brought to the startup universe. 

According to Manuel Tanger, Co-Founder & Head of Open Innovation at Beta-i, ideation is about having countless ideas until you get to some reasonable ones:

“Ideation, well it’s really simple, it’s having ideas. Sounds easy, right? It’s not. Why? The reason is that most of our ideas—yours, mine, ours—they’re crap. Really. Like 90% of them are not that interesting, so, you need a lot of them until you can work on the 10% that are reasonable.” 

The Ideation Process

Ideation is all about generating ideas, but there are some rules to follow if you want to get something worthwhile out of the process. The first, and arguably most important, is to have a judgement-free zone where everyone can come up with ideas. The main goal is to think outside the box and explore new angles, so it’s important to create an environment conducive to developing ideas.

Presenting the problem is an important step when having an ideation session with your startup team; it helps to get everyone on the same page to start thinking about solutions. Don’t forget that in this case, the motto is quantity over quality. 

At this stage, there are no bad ideas. You can get as crazy as you want as long as you take notes, use post-its, and markers to capture everything that happens in the room. 

The ideation process is crucial for entrepreneurs to question the obvious, challenge the norm, and come up with new ideas

3 Ideation Activities You Can Try With Your Team

There are many different ways to have an ideation session and come up with innovative solutions. Here are some of the ideation activities that will take you beyond brainstorming:

1. Mash-Up Method

2. Mind Mapping

3. Opposite Thinking

There are plenty of ideation activities that can help you to break the creative wall. We recommend this blog post for some more insights and ideas on how to have an effective ideation session.

Deciding what ideas will move forward is just the beginning of the startup design process. Learn more about creating a startup and begin your journey in the entrepreneurial world.