Design Thinking for Innovation. Stress Testing Human Factors in Ideation Sessions

Knight, John, Fitton, Daniel Bowen orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-2300-5432, Phillips, Charlie and Price, Dylan (2019) Design Thinking for Innovation. Stress Testing Human Factors in Ideation Sessions. The Design Journal, 22 (sup1). pp. 1929-1939. ISSN 1460-6925

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This paper reports on a series of studies that attempt to unpick the factors that contribute to successful team ideation. Ideation is a popular, structured approach to creative thinking, where the goal is to produce many viable and innovative ideas and concepts. This is often accomplished through structured collaborative workshops that include ‘Design Thinking’ techniques and methods. The reported studies involved manipulating variables in controlled experiments with subjects (AKA ideators). The sample of ideators, were tasked with generating ideas to solve a challenge and the outcome of their work was measured by quantity and quality of output. The latter criterion was assessed by an expert panel using a
standardised evaluation framework. Four variables were employed to understand idea generation success factors. These
were identified as common and thus easily applied factors in typical ideation scenarios and included varying levels of participant stimulation (before sessions), presence or absence of a facilitator, application of ‘Design Thinking’ technique (or
not) and lastly, participant profile based on professional background. In this case, participant characteristics were split between designers and non-designers. The different experiments were run, with participants generating ideas in a timeboxed
activity in which their outputs were assessed against the various experimental conditions. The findings suggest that counter orthodox thinking, applying the methods (e.g. Round Robin) is less effective than the influence of ideators’ differing
professional background and their level of stimulation. These conclusions in turn suggest the possibility of extending the effectiveness of workshop facilitation to increase efficiency and quality of output. The paper concludes with pointers on
improving ideation. In particular, increasing levels of engagement and immersion among participants and using aspects of game theory are seen a possible areas of further investigation.

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