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Executing Ideation in Your Small Business

Introduction

Our celebration of Ideas Month shows how ideation is crucial for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

We’ve looked at brainstorming methods, testing your best ideas, crafting where you want to be, making it happen and much more!

Are you ready to see your business boom from drawing out fresh ideas and executing them with excellence? 

Today’s #wisdomwednesday blog post summarises our March 2021 videos by honing in on ideation. And what better time to execute than at the start of a new financial year.          

Ideation

What is ideation?

Ideation is the process of wildly brainstorming ideas from conception to execution so that the best solution becomes a reality. This could be for a new product or service or developing an existing one.

Your mental capacity stretches when everyone thinks outside the box. So, think quantity over quality of ideas when it comes to your ideation session or workshop. Failure opens up new paths! The need to narrow down the ideas does come later on in ideation but only once all ideas are exhausted.

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work”.

Thomas A. Edison

Getting the obvious out of your mind is fundamental to the success of an innovative solution reaching the hands of your users. You’ll also see how ideation uplifts your team to creatively pursue a solution for the problem.

Ideation is when you, “step beyond the obvious solutions and therefore increase the innovation potential of your solution” – Rikke Friis Dam and Teo Yu Siang in “What is Ideation – and How to Prepare for Ideation Sessions”. 

What is Design Thinking?

Ideation is the third stage of Design Thinking:

  1. Empathise
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

Check out this article, “What is Design Thinking?” where they talk about ideating as an essential stage of it. 

Why the need for ideation?

As small business owners, we equip our team to overcome challenges, meet user needs with innovation and bridge gaps in the market. Ideation is the empowering tool to embrace all of that.

We all know that adaption is key to sustain business and our entrepreneurship endeavours. That’s why we need a creative tool like ideation because it makes our minds malleable.

Another priority is to interject fresh perspective into employees and ourselves! Be encouraged: new ideas flourish when perspective is anew. 

Ideation could realign your team back to the very purpose, core values and vision of your business. Because enquiring of the obvious often reaffirms beliefs.

Calling all entrepreneurs!

Ideation sessions are also essential for an individual and not only a group. So, if you’re an entrepreneur, we’d love to hear when you’re planning your next ideation session!

Hosting an ideation session

Group ideation session

A pause for thought on creativity...

We appreciate that ideation isn’t easy because it challenges thinking. So, your team will need you to set the tone by ensuring you are:

  • Flexible
  • Adaptable
  • Curious
  • Judgement-free
  • Managing your team effectively

And therefore, creating a healthy atmosphere to ideate.

Also, before your session, plan some “how might we?” questions based on the problem. This type of question immediately opens up the reality that there’s a solution but without eluding to anything.

It’s important for us as small business owners to know when to switch off our “inner-critic”. Because this unleashes our “inner-child” – where creativity thrives! This invites our employees to also voice their creativity. And then of course it’s important to know when to switch on the “inner-critic” again. For example, during the narrowing down of ideas and testing.

Ideation methods and resources

The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. model

This helpful acronym allows you to improve ideas by poking at them from different angles. Templates track everyone’s responses. It works well when combined with a brain-writing session. 

S.C.A.M.P.E.R. stands for:

  • Substitute
    – What would happen if we swapped X for Y?
  • Combine
    – What would happen if we combined X and Y?
  • Adapt
    – How could we adapt this thing to a different context?
  • Modify
    – How could we modify this product to add more value?
  • Put to Another Use
    – What other uses might this project have?
  • Eliminate
    – What could we remove from this project?
  • Reverse
    – How might we reorganize this project to make it more effective?

How do we make our ideas happen?

In order to make our ideas happen, we need to take some follow up steps. Some of which actually include testing them.

Here is a 5-step approach to follow as you figure out which ones are the right ones to pursue:

  1. Capture your ideas – you’ve already done this!
  2. Prioritize your projects – having too many ideas is an even bigger problem than having no ideas. Make sure you’re prioritising based on fit in terms of time and your lifestyle, as well as finances.
  3. Talk it out – find someone to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of your idea.
  4. Write your action steps down – put some SMART goals in place.
  5. Schedule time for it – what doesn’t get scheduled, doesn’t get done.

Check out our two videos about prototyping and making your ideas happen.

So, based on all the above, it is clear that there is value in ideation within our small businesses. It’s the best way to get the right innovative solution into the hands of your users.

In Conclusion

We hope you’re feeling inspired to interweave ideation into the culture of your business or as an entrepreneur.

Whether it’s your first time or not, make sure to get the most out of ideating from fresh ideas that work well for your business and sustains it.

Sometimes we need a bit of help to turn it into a reality though. If that’s you, we’d love to hear from you! Let’s talk through your business ideas and help you put them into practice.