Most companies recognize the value of brainstorming. However, the experience can often be frustrating, with a lot of ideas but nothing actionable. When done correctly, with energy and focus, brainstorming can create new ideas, combine existing ideas, and identify opportunities for breakthroughs. Many great companies struggle to find a focus and process to drive internal idea generation. Brooks Stevens is uniquely positioned to provide great value in strategic business development, due to in‐house expertise in product development, manufacturing, engineering, innovation management, and facilitation of IDEAtion Workshops.
The IDEAtion workshop format is based on the Creative Problem Solving process (CPS). Four distinct stages of activities take the client from the general (big picture strategy) to the specific (individual concepts for new product development). Those stages are Introspection, Definition, Exploration, and Action.
Before considering where the client could be in the future, it is critical to understand where the client is today and has been in the past. Therefore, the purpose of the Introspection phase is to take a deep dive into the client’s perception of strengths, weaknesses, growth opportunities, and strategic partnerships as they exist now and have in the past.
Using individual and group activities, the team comes to a verbal consensus of “where we are now” versus “where we want to be in the future”. This could relate to new or emerging markets, emerging threats, or maintaining market share.
During the Definition phase, the group breaks into small teams led by a Brooks Stevens designer or engineer. Each team creates a conceptual framework of the issues identified in the Introspection phase. Next, the group reconvenes and compares maps, coming to a consensus on a combined working version.
The Exploration phase is the heart of the project. Using tools and techniques of traditional brainstorming sessions, participants will be encouraged to stick their heads out of “the box” in order to identify means to achieve the goals identified in the preceding phases.
The moderator will be responsible for keeping this phase highly focused and productive. Brooks Stevens designers will record ideas and sketch thumbnails of preliminary concepts. Topics will range from conceptualizing product ideas within specific categories to blue sky brainstorming in general product categories. However, the sessions will be focused on ways to achieve the goals defined in the preceding phases.
During this phase, Brooks Stevens industrial designers connect their interactive sketching tablets to projectors so that the entire workshop team can become immersed with the designers. Abstract thoughts and ideas jotted on Post‐It notes become tangible product concepts right before their eyes. This activity provides the dual benefit of building on the synergy of the previous activities and giving our clients a peek inside our design process. It can also serve as a great jump‐start for a formal concept development phase, since both BSI and the client are “on the same page” regarding capabilities, project goals, and client company strategies.
Brooks Stevens will work collaboratively to determine follow up activities, which may include:
- Conceptual Design exploration
- 3D modeling
- Mockups or Prototypes